A memorial Mass for Sister Marie Chaminade Zimmerle, SSND, was celebrated Dec. 22 at Theresa Center in St. Louis. Sister Marie Chaminade died Dec. 13 at Anna House-The Sarah Community in Bridgeton. She was 94 years old.
The third of four children, she was born on June 24, 1927, to Teresa (Hansmann) and Charles Zimmerle in St. Louis. She was baptized at Sts. Peter and Paul Church on July 10, 1927, and named Teresa Elizabeth. She attended Notre Dame High School, where she was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Inspired by her teachers, she asked permission to enter the convent. Her mother was overjoyed, as this was an answer to her prayers that a religious vocation would be in the family.
She entered the candidature on Aug. 29, 1945, and spent the next two years attending the former Notre Dame Junior College at Sancta Maria in Ripa in St. Louis. She was received into the novitiate on July 28, 1947, and given the name Marie Chaminade. She professed first vows on July 29, 1948, and final vows on July 29, 1954.
Her first assignment was at Our Lady of Sorrows in St. Louis, where she taught seventh grade for two years. Then, she was missioned to St. Gregory in Tyler, Texas, for one year. Sister Marie Chaminade was one of the pioneers who opened St. Rita’s School in San Diego. After one year, she was transferred to Holy Angels in East St. Louis, Illinois. Nine years later, she was missioned to St. Martin of Tours in Washington Park, Illinois.
Sister Marie Chaminade earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the former Notre Dame College, St. Louis, in 1956, and a master’s degree in special education from Saint Louis University in 1966. In 1963, Sister Marie Chaminade pioneered a special education class at St. Francis School in Aviston, Illinois. She remained there for five years, during which time a second class was added. The next 12 years were spent teaching at St. Joseph Vocational School in St. Louis. Then, she worked in child care at St. Mary’s Special School in St. Louis, teaching in the school and serving as the food coordinator for five years.
Following a sabbatical and a semester of community service at Villa Gesu, the former retirement home for the SSND in St. Louis, she ministered as a house parent for developmentally disabled women at Sunnyhill in Dittmer for 13 years.
Returning to Sancta Maria in Ripa, St. Louis, Sister Marie Chaminade was a driver for 10 years. She also served in hospitality and various volunteer roles until her health needs required that she be missioned to Veronica House at The Sarah Community in August 2017. In 2019, she moved to Anna House.
Sister Marie Chaminade donated her body to Saint Louis University School of Medicine.