Ever since two members of St. Joseph Academy’s first graduating class in 1899 went on to become Adrian Dominican Sisters (Sisters Cornelia Cassidy and Magdalen Marie Weber), the Academy was for many years a steady source of vocations for the Congregation. One of those “Academy girls” was Mary Catherine Koenig, who became Sister Carol Denise.
Mary Catherine was born on February 3, 1933, in Ottoville, Ohio, to Carl and Elizabeth (Landwehr) Koenig. Due to a heavy snowstorm that day, the doctor and nurse came to the home for the birth rather than having Carl and Elizabeth try to make it to the hospital.
Elizabeth had already had several miscarriages, and when her newest baby was born it looked for a time like a stillbirth. But the nurse noticed a small pulse, and “with a lot of work” on the doctor’s and nurse’s part, “I became a member of the living,” Sister Carol Denise wrote in her autobiography. She was named Mary Catherine because her mother had promised the Blessed Mother that if she had a girl, she would name her after Mary. The “Catherine” part of the name was for Elizabeth’s mother.
The Koenigs owned a farm at the time, but once the Great Depression hit especially hard the family lost the farm and Carl went to work at larger farms that were managing to make it through those years. A large garden and orchard, which Elizabeth tended, kept the family in plenty of vegetables and fruit.
Read more about Sister Carol Denise (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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A shared love of being onstage, specifically in plays put on by the Czech Social Club of St. Vitus Parish, Chicago, was the catalyst through which George Luznicky and Lillian Hattan met and fell in love in the early years of the twentieth century.
“My Dad was the straight man in the plays of the Social Club,” wrote Sister Georgina Luznicky in her autobiography. “My Mother was a delightful out-going person who always wanted and got the lead in the plays of the Club.”
George and Lillian, both the children of Czech immigrants, married after George returned from World War I. Injuries had left him crippled, but his cleaning and tailoring business provided well for the family.
The couple had three children: Mary, the oldest; Dorothy, who became Sister Georgina; and Edward. Faith was central in the Luznicky home, and all three siblings had a Catholic education. Mary and Dorothy attended elementary school at St. Nicholas of Tolentine – which was staffed by Adrian Dominicans — and high school at Lourdes, and then Mary, who was four years older than Dorothy, went on to nursing school and served in the U.S. Army. Edward, after elementary school at St. Nicholas of Tolentine, attended Quigley Prep Seminary and eventually became a Servite priest.
Read more about Sister Georgina (pdf)
The feeling I had while preparing this reflection was that of being with a faithful, loving person who knew who she was and what her calling meant – a person of prayer and a solid kind of dependable person you’d want in your life.
— Sister Joanne Peters, Co-Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary Chapter, in her eulogy at the vigil service for Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk
Out of the thousands of women who have been Adrian Dominican Sisters, only a handful have lived to the age of one hundred or more. Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk was one of those treasured few: when she died on June 24, 2018, she was just four months shy of her 101st birthday and was in her eighty-first year in the Congregation.
Sister Ann Seraphim’s parents, Henry and Linda Hoff Schenk, were both of German descent, with Henry growing up in Quincy, Illinois, and Linda’s family living on a farm in Fayetteville, Illinois, a small town near Belleville. Linda was Henry’s second wife; his first wife died while their son was still an infant. The baby was raised by an aunt and her husband until after Henry remarried, at which point he went to live with Henry and Linda until he was of high school age and went back to the aunt and uncle’s home.
The family moved often in those early years. Henry and Linda went to California on their honeymoon and stayed there for some time; a son, Floyd, was born to them in Santa Cruz and Henry, a carpenter, even built a house there. But at some point soon thereafter, they moved back to Belleville, where four girls were born into the family.
Read more about Sister Ann Seraphim (pdf)
Elizabeth Gael O’Reilly was born to Elizabeth and Frank O’Reilly in Vancouver, British Columbia and moved with her family to Seattle when she was nine years old. There, Gael and her sister Sharon attended Sacred Heart School and Holy Names Academy. Gael graduated in 1957 and maintained life-long relationships with several of her classmates.
Gael married in 1959 and had four children in six years. She sent them to Blessed Sacrament School and was very active in the parish. Gael raised her children to think for themselves and to value one another. A feminist, Gael was a strong advocate for peace and justice.
After her divorce, Gael secured employment at a Seattle credit union and advanced to loan officer, lending manager, and manager of two banks. She retired in 2004.
For many years Gael was active with the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) and the Edmonds Dominicans, who founded the Center. She hosted a book club and Soup Group and was famous for her sense of humor, hospitality, and over-the-top Christmas decorations and kindness. She was an active person in every way until she began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which she lived with for almost five years.
Sister Ann Marie Wood, OP, shared the following:
Gael and I met half a century ago. We were both young mothers and active members of Blessed Sacrament, the Dominican parish in North Seattle at a time when the Dominicans embraced the Vatican II changes with openness and creativity. It was an incredible, hope-filled time as our faith community celebrated a renewed church.
While an Edmonds Dominican I became involved with the Associate Program and was delighted when Gael expressed an interest. She participated in many activities at Rosary Heights, our Motherhouse, and, after the Edmonds/Adrian merger joined the Siena Mission Group, the same one I belong to. Gael served as RAL [Representative of Associate Life] until her declining health forced her to resign. Gael was a Dominican through and through!
Gael is survived by her four children: Mark (Lara) Simmons, Eric (Katie) Simmons, Carrie Simmons, and Pat Simmons; her beloved grandchildren, Audrey, Andrew, Daniel, Owen, Jack, and Ava; and her dear sister, Sharon.
When the Edmonds Dominican Sisters merged with Adrian Dominican Sisters, Gael wrote that she looked forward to meeting new people. “I bring a questioning mind, a sense of humor, compassion and tolerance, a wish to be mentally and spiritually expanded (not physically expanded, however), and a humble and inquiring mind.”
Gael’s children wrote in a memorial booklet for their mother: “Mom made sure that we could do and be whatever we wanted. As a single parent of four, she worked very hard to give us the best life she could. She was a lifelong advocate for peace and justice and fought for the poor in Washington State with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was a great listener and friend and always offered wise advice.”
Her children concluded their memories by saying, “Mom, we will miss you every day and will be seeing you in the butterflies and little birdies in the trees. And yes, we will remember to vote and to get our flu shots.”
Gael’s funeral, held June 25, 2018 at Sacred Heart Parish, celebrated her family, her interests and her spirituality. She will be missed.
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to
We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.