December 9, 1925 – September 30, 1962
“May I go on through many years of hard work for the love of God.”
Like others of our Sister housekeepers, Sister Phyllis left an autobiography simply and sweetly told in all straightforwardness and humiliy.
I was born on the ninth day of December, 1925, on a farm in Marne, Michigan and was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Marne.
When I was five years old we moved to Belding and the next fall I started school. I only finished the eight grade, when I started to work for other people doing housework and taking care of children. This I did from my fifteenth to my eighteenth year.
When I was eighteen, I began to think about what I should do in life. In a “Catholic Girl’s Guide” I came to the chapter where it said, “Do you want to be a nun?” I finished reading it and then I said to myself, “Is that what I want to be?” I did not know but I knew I did not want to be married.
I knew I needed help on such an important question so I told the lady for whom I worked that I was going downtown for awhile and I went and talked to a priest about it. He told me it might be that I had a vocation but that I should think it over very carefully and come back to him the next week. I did so and this time he told me I should see Mother Euphrasia and talk with her.
I didn’t know how I could do that. I had never been to Grand Rapids nor to Marywood alone. But God took care of it. The next week my sister, Bernice, told me she was going to Grand Rapids so I asked to go with her. Bernice thought that was strange because I had never asked to go before, but she did not ask any questions until we reached Grand Rapids; then she asked where I wanted to go. I told her I wanted to go to Marywood to see some Sisters.
She said, “You don’t know any Sisters except Sister Donald and you can’t see her now.” (Sister Donald, my sister, was a novice.) Then I admitted that I wanted to talk with Mother Euphrasia. Bernice jumped at me then and said, “You aren’t going to be a Sister, are you?” I answered, “Not now, but maybe in September.” Bernice did not say anything for about two blocks and then she said, “I guess God takes care of His own, but I never thought I would ever have two sisters in the convent.”
That afternoon I had a long visit with Mother Euphrasia and other Sisters. Mother gave me the papers I needed. I entered on the eighth day of September, 1944. When I got to the Postulate, Sister Lenora was ill so we were left much to ourselves for the first two weeks. The day after I entered there was a Reception. I did not think I ever could stand it. My sister, Sister Donald, had been a novice for about six months and I couldn’t talk to her.
About two weeks after we entered we all went over to the college to register. Mother Eveline took all the others into a room, then she came back to me and said, “You don’t want to go to school, do you?” I was so stunned by that time I didn’t know what I wanted but finally I said, “No.” I was so scared that I hardly dared move. Mother went away for awhile again and then she came back and told me I would stay at Marywood and help Sister Ernestine in the kitchen. Mother Eveline said, “She will be your mother.”
When I got back to Marywood and went to the kitchen Sister Ernestine said “You can come and pack a lunch for Sister Genevieve and some other Sisters who are going to Saginaw for a little vacation.” About two days later word came that Sister Genevieve had died, and I told Sister Ernestine maybe it was something I put in her lunch. Sister just laughed and told me that Sister Genevieve had died of a heart attack.
I received the habit on the thirteenth of March, Mother Euphrasia’s feast day. On the fourteenth of March, a year later, I made profession. I remained in the novitiate for two years longer.
The next summer Sister Donald and I had our first home visit but before going for the visit I received my first appointment. I could hardly wait for the visit to be over because the appointment said, “St. John’s Home to take care of the little girls.”
The following summer a General Chapter was held at St. John’s Home. I will never forget it and all the work there was for it and all the experiences I had on my first mission.
Sister Phyllis was a prefect of the small girls at St. John’s Home until 1953. Then followed assignments for housework at Catholic Central Annex, Holy Family, Saginaw; Catholic Central, Grand Rapids; Melvindale, and then – St. John’s Essexville in the fall of 1962. Everywhere she was a ray of sunshine as she diligently strove to live up to her ideal.
Entered eternal life on September 30, 1962 at the age of 36 after 17 years of religious life
We commend Sister Phyllis to your prayers.