|Sr. Marian Smith in front of St. Ambrose Church in Erie, Illinois.
We could always count on Sister Marian Smith and her good friend, Mary Elizabeth Earl, arriving early in the morning for funerals of CHM sisters at Humility of Mary Center. They would stay for the luncheon and then return to Sister's hometown, Erie, Illinois, about 40 miles from Davenport. However, Sr. Marian’s recuperation from a hospitalization early in the year has interrupted her travel. For this reason she now shares her community with CHMs by inviting them to come to Erie for lunch and a tour. Her guests enjoy a great meal and get an on-site experience of the place she still calls “home”.
While Sr. Marian, an only child, was in the novitiate, her father died, leaving her mother a young widow. After teaching in parochial schools for many years, in 1975 Sr. Marian was offered a position in the Fulton Illinois public school system, about 20 miles from Erie. She welcomed this opportunity to live with her mother, Eva, who was still in the family home where Sr. Marian had grown up. Mary Elizabeth’s mother, Mary Byam, was Eva’s good friend. It was no surprise, then, that both mothers and daughters would do things together, living as they did in a small town and belonging to the same church. Since both mothers have died, the bonds between their daughters are stronger than ever and they are in touch every day.
|Clockwise from top: Mary Elizabeth Earl, Sr. Marian Smith,
Sr. Mary Rehmann and Sr. Elizabeth Thoman.
Sr. Elizabeth Thoman and I went to lunch in Erie on a beautiful July day. Not to lunch at just any place but to Mary Elizabeth’s beautiful home. We enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation over a beautiful dinner and drinks. It was followed by the promised “tour of Erie".
We learned that the former town “square” was now only a “triangle” – due to the destruction of buildings by fire on one side that weren’t replaced. The Erie school district’s wind generator (windmill) can be seen from a distance; it provides all the electricity needed by the elementary, middle and high school buildings.
We saw the unique statue of the Holy Family in front of St. Ambrose Church
where Sr. Marian has served in every way imaginable. More than six years ago, she and Mary Elizabeth initiated a monthly ecumenical luncheon there for local women. They pray, play games and learn about opportunities to support local needs. In October when the two of them host the luncheon, there are laughs over the costumes worn by many of the women.
Sr. Elizabeth and I give Sr. Marian an “A” for community-building – with her CHM sisters and her hometown friends in Erie.