The funeral Mass for Sister Maria Cordis Schmitt was celebrated Oct. 26 at Theresa Center Chapel at Ripa in St. Louis. Sister Maria Cordis, 74, died Oct. 19 at Anna House at the Sarah Community in Bridgeton. She was a longtime educator and professed member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for 54 years.
Born in St. Louis, she was the fourth of seven children to Sophia (Zysk) and Charles Schmitt. She was baptized on July 9, 1944, at St. Philip Church in East St. Louis, Ill., and named Judith Anne. She attended St. Philip’s Grade School staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Her desire to become a sister began in the lower grades when she was chosen to help other children in her class. This “teaching experience” inspired her to become a teaching sister. She attended the Academy of Notre Dame in Belleville, Ill., for her freshman and sophomore years and then entered the aspiranture at Sancta Maria in Ripa to complete her high school education.
She received the postulant’s veil at St. Philip on Aug. 25, 1962. She was received into the novitiate on July 31, 1963. at Saint Louis Cathedral and given the name Maria Cordis in honor of the Sacred Heart. She professed first vows on Aug. 1, 1964, and final vows on Aug. 1, 1969.
Sister Maria Cordis taught primary children for 29 years at St. Bernadette and St. Andrew in St. Louis; St. Joseph in Freeburg, Ill., and St. Martin in Jefferson City, Mo. One of the many joys of these years was preparing children for the reception of First Reconciliation and First Communion. In Jefferson City, she and a lay teacher started a volleyball league for fifth- through eighth-grade girls.
In 2005, she left formal classroom education and moved to an apartment in Arnold. She commuted to Ripa for three years to teach older students at the Notre Dame Tutorial/Learning Center. In 2008, she volunteered to teach English as a Second Language to immigrant children at St. Frances Cabrini Academy in St. Louis. She also helped small groups of first- and second-graders at Holy Child School in Arnold several times a month and to tutor a child once a week as a volunteer with the English Tutoring Program.
In 2010, she was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy. By 2017, fractured vertebrae revealed that she had multiple myeloma. She was missioned to Anna House for rehab and continued care. She was placed on hospice in October 2018.
In her autobiography, Sister Maria Cordis wrote, “I will try to do my best at the place I am called to serve at a given time. Each day is a gift and needs to be lived one day at a time. I realize that in one day there are both joys and challenges, but that is life. I am also convinced that if there is any way I can help someone I should try and do it. …Though there (have) been many challenges and sickness in my family while growing up I feel blessed to have the family to which I belong. ”
Survivors include a sister, Ruthann Schmitt; and three brothers, David, Paul and Joseph Schmitt. Burial was in Sancta Maria in Ripa Cemetery.