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OBITUARY | Sister Mary Ellen Lewis, FSM

Sr. Mary Ellen Lewis
A funeral Mass for Sister Mary Ellen Lewis, FSM, will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. May 28 at the Marian Chapel at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, with a wake beginning at 12:45 p.m. Sister Mary Ellen died April 24 at The Sarah Community. She was 89 years old and a Franciscan Sister of Mary for 68 years.

Mary Ellen Lewis was born Dec. 10, 1934, in Clayton to Leslie T. and Irene C. (Nobel) Lewis. She earned her diploma in nursing through St. Louis City Hospital School of Nursing, becoming a registered nurse in 1955. She entered the Sisters of St. Mary on Aug. 10, 1955. She received the name Sister Mary Aquinas, and she professed final vows on Feb. 11, 1963.

She completed her BSN through Saint Louis University in 1962. She also earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction through the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969 and a master’s in theology through Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis in 1990.

Sister Mary Ellen was a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis (1955-62). She taught pharmacology and medical nursing at St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Kansas City, Missouri (1962), then returned to St. Mary’s in St. Louis as head nurse of the nursery (1962-63) and medical nursing supervisor (1963-66). While a graduate student at Saint Louis University, she was a nurse at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center (1966-67). She served as assistant executive director for St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin (1967-75), then for two and a half years as executive director for St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City.

In 1977, she was elected treasurer general and councilor for the Sisters of St. Mary. From 1985-91, she was general superior; under her leadership, the SSM Health Care system was established (1986), and the reunification of the Sisters of St. Mary and the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary was accomplished (1987). She served as FSM novice director from 1991-92.

She became a patient representative at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. After research on forgiveness at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she served in pastoral care there from 1995-2002, as director of pastoral care (1996-2000) and chaplain (2000-09). In 1996, she became a founding member of the International Forgiveness Institute, which trains teachers to provide age-appropriate forgiveness programs worldwide; two of those programs operate in Northern Ireland and Liberia.

From 2002-07, she was assistant director of the International Peace Council in Madison. In this capacity she attended conclaves in Northern Ireland, Thailand and New York City.

Sister Mary Ellen enjoyed classical and folk music, as well as fabric art. She loved exploring history and poetry. She enjoyed how her service in pastoral care integrated aspects of all her previous ministries — nursing, leadership and her studies at Aquinas Institute of Theology

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OBITUARY Sister Mary Ellen Lewis FSM 9635

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