Sylvia Norfleet was born on November 3, 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her great aunt was Catholic, which led Sylvia to join the Catholic Church when she was 11 years old. She attended St. Matthew Lutheran School in St. Louis and graduated in 1957 from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, which was run by the Oblate Sisters of Providence. In time, Sylvia married David English and moved to Detroit.
Sylvia met Sisters Rosemarie Kieffer, OP, and Nancy Jurecki, OP, at her parish, Our Lady Gate of Heaven. She also attended the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, where she met Sister Anneliese Sinnott, OP, one of the faculty members.
Sylvia was always interested in outreach to the elderly and became volunteer coordinator of “Joyfield Caregivers.” This group was an elder service program that used the resources of church and community to help people maintain independent living, all at no cost to the participants.
From working with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Sylvia began to take an interest in Associate Life. Sylvia was mentored by Sister Bridget Maier, OP, and joined Associate Life on October 7, 2000. She was a member of the Kaleidoscope Mission Group in the Great Lakes Chapter.
“I have an overwhelming desire to get closer to Jesus, to do His will,” Sylvia wrote in explanation for her desire to become an Associate. “I continually observe, listen to, and discuss all aspects of daily life. I find there is a truth and uplifting quality about these Sisters.” She also believed that she had the same vision as the Adrian Dominican Sisters. “We are a Gospel centered community, committed to learning and giving, through service,” she wrote.
“I am constantly in touch with my Mission Group,” Sylvia wrote a few years ago. “We dialogue. I believe we never stop learning. My challenge is physical. I have slowed down a lot in the past few years. Despite my health and poverty, God has blessed me more than ever.”
Sylvia suffered with declining health – mostly small strokes through the remaining years of her life. Her Mission Group was her lifeline.
Sylvia had surgery in mid-December and was unable to recover. She died on December 27, 2018. She was preceded in death by her son Craig English and one grandson, Davonne William Shaw. Surviving are her children Debra English Butler; David English, Jr.; and Leslie English.
The wake for Sylvia will be held from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, January 11, 2018, at O.H. Pye III Funeral Home, 17600 Plymouth Road, Detroit. The Funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, January 12, 2018 at Sacred Heart Church, 1000 Elliott Street, Detroit. The burial will follow at Detroit Memorial Park West in Redford Township, Michigan.
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