October 23, 1930 – September 10, 2022
Glance at the sun.
See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of Earth’s greenings.
What delight God gives to humankind with all these things. ~ Hildegarde of Bingen
On a farm five miles west of Carson City, Michigan, Margaret Therese McCrackin was born on October 23, 1930. She was the fourth of five children in the family of William and Marie (Welsh) McCrackin. Peggy, as she was known in the family, had one brother and three sisters. From an early age on the family farm, she grew to love the beauty and take delight in nature’s bounty. Her life became one of nurturing – children and plants, friendship, and community.
Peggy attended St. Mary’s elementary and high school in Carson City, where she met the Grand Rapids Dominicans. In her decision to become a Dominican, Sister Fabian MacDonald was influential.
Her parents were pleased that their daughter joined the community when she graduated from high school in 1948. At the time of her reception, she received the name Sister Marie Kathleen.
After profession in 1950, Sister Marie Kathleen had her first mission experience as a housekeeper at Holy Trinity, Alpine and then at St. Stephen’s, Grand Rapids. At Christmas time of her second year Mother Victor told her she was to get ready to go to Hannah to teach grades one and two. When she replied that she did not know how to teach, Mother Victor said that Sister Paula Murphy would be her guide. Sister Marie Kathleen’s aptitude for teaching and Sister Paula’s wise guidance and mentoring was the beginning of a long and successful career as a teacher of the primary grades for many years.
Sister Marie Kathleen taught for forty-two years at parish schools throughout Michigan including: St. Mary, Hannah; St. Stephen, Grand Rapids; St. Alfred, Taylor; St. Peter, Douglas; St. Joseph, Beal City; St. Norbert, Munger; St. Joseph, Wright; St. Andrew, Grand Rapids; and St. Basil, South Haven. She was kind, compassionate and consistent. She loved and respected the children in her classroom, who in turn loved and respected her.
Sister Marie Kathleen earned a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in theology from Aquinas College. A summer of study at Xavier University in New Orleans introduced her to Sister Grace Pelon’s Workshop Way philosophy and practice which further enhanced her teaching methods.
She had a wonderful sense of humor and regaled her companions with entertaining stories about teaching the little ones. At St. Basil’s convent, located on Lake Michigan, Sister Marie Kathleen and her companion, Sister Mary Courtade were gracious hosts to many other Sisters who came to enjoy days at the beach.
She was not looking forward to her 60th birthday in 1990 until she heard about a trip to Ireland hosted by the radio announcer Bruce Grant. With the help of her family, the trip was planned, and a long-time dream came true. With Sister Marie Michael, as her companion, she flew to Ireland, and later declared that her 60th birthday was the best ever. Other travels included Maine, Boston, Washington D.C., and Florida as well as Ohio, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Beyond the nation’s borders she also relished her trips to Rome, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
After retiring from full time teaching, Sister Marie Kathleen served as a tutor at St. Mary’s, Big Rapids. Eventually she and Sister Mary Courtade moved to one of the Marywood apartments and began a ministry as tutor in the WORD program. She was also a volunteer sacristan and gardener of the Marywood grounds.
Teaching little children, especially in rural areas, gave her immense joy. She liked reading, poetry, gardening, watching birds and gazing at the stars. She loved walking along the shore of Lake Michigan and watching the sunsets.
Sister Marie Kathleen lived a long and full life, her quiet and kind ways contributed immensely to the community wherever she was missioned. She wrote: “One thing that has meant a great deal to me is the many wonderful friends that I have come to know and love over the years. We have a great community, and I am glad I belong to it.”
We are glad too for her life and goodness have enriched all who knew her as well. May she rest now in peace and enjoy the beauty and love of the God she served so well and generously all her days.
Sr. Marie Kathleen is survived by her brother-in-law Jack Proctor, Carson City, MI; nieces, nephews, many friends and members of her Dominican Community.
Entered eternal life on September 10, 2022 at the age of 91 after 73 years of religious life.
We commend Sister Marie Kathleen to your prayers.
Sr Marie Kathleen McCrackin is a sacristan for liturgy in Dominican Chapel/Marywood in Grand Rapids. She also served as Sacristan at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Big Rapids for 13 years.
Sr. Marie Kathleen McCrackin, as a postulant, with her very proud parents.
Sr. Marie Kathleen McCrackin with her classroom in Douglas.
Sr. Marie Kathleen sits between Sr. Maria Tardani (left) and Sr. Rose Mary Belanger (r) at a program at St. Paul’s Seminary.
Srs. Kathleen and Mary are on a boating adventure with the Mendenhals, parishioners from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Big Rapids.