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Sister Marie Michael Jacobs

Life Story & Obituary

May 26, 1930 – September 5, 2018

She dreamed of going to foreign missions and then found a mission close to home. Frances Ann Jacobs, born May 26, 1930 in Wheeler, Michigan, was the eldest child of Frank and Helen Dean Jacobs. She had three younger brothers. She was very interested in sports but was limited by the custom of the day to bowling, horseback riding, and softball. For several years she played softball for the K.C.Y.O. (Knights of Columbus Youth Organization) team that won the state championship two nights before she entered the convent.

Fran attended Valliere country school for grades 1-6 and Sacred Heart, Merrill for junior and senior high, where her teachers were the Grand Rapids Dominicans. Another contact with the congregation was through occasional visits with her cousin, Sister Mary Ann Otway, who had entered the congregation in 1944. In her junior year, she became intrigued by the missionary work of the Victory Noll Sisters. After graduation in 1948, she applied to that congregation, was accepted and prepared to enter in October. Then in August, she went with Sister Michaela to Marywood to say goodbye to the Sisters she knew there. “What happened that afternoon, I don’t really know! Though after a visit with Father Wilson, I requested an application for Marywood and returned to enter in September.”

Upon Reception into the Novitiate, Frances was given the name Sister Marie Michael of the Sacred Heart. After profession of vows, she began a ministry in teaching which took her to schools in nearly every part of Michigan in grade three through junior high. “After being assigned to St. Joe’s and Sacred Heart in Saginaw [1962 and 1963] my life has never been the same.” Her missionary urge was reawakened by her awareness of central city needs. She became involved in the N.A.A.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the Diocesan Human Relations Commission, N.A.W.R (National Association of Women Religious), voter registration, Peace and Justice Commission, parish work, home visitation, advocacy, and the Advisory Education Committee of the Congregation.

Sr. Marie Michael taught at St. Alphonsus, St. Anthony, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Andrew, Grand Rapids; St. Mary, St. Joseph and Sacred Heart, Saginaw; St. Mary, Lake Leelanau; St. Anne, Alpena; St Joseph, Muskegon; St Alfred, Taylor; and Our Lady of Grace, Dearborn.

In 1968, Sister Marie Michael became principal of St. Andrew, Grand Rapids. From the very start, she welcomed pupils from all backgrounds and involved parents in the education of their children. With determination, hard work and assistance from advisors and staff, she transformed a struggling parish school into a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious elementary school. The mission of the school was to help each child attain his or her potential and to educate them for success in the adult world. For twenty-nine years, Sr. Marie Michael served St. Andrew school in roles including principal and president. She also served as the Executive Director of the Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation.

In 1986, Sister Marie Michael was one of three private school principals from the United States and Puerto Rico (and the first Catholic one) recognized by the National Distinguished Principals Program. Among other honors she received are the YWCA Tribute award (1982), the GRACE (Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism) Church/Community Recognition Award (1984) and the Hugh Michael Beahan Award (1988).

Sister Marie Michael regarded the call of a religious vocation above any professional distinction. She prized community life and the wonderful friendships she established within the congregation. Her heroines were St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila. One of her cherished memories was participating in a liturgy at the Basilica of St. Dominic in Bologna, Italy. Her interests and hobbies were reading, music, card playing, collecting coins, sports (especially golf), and traveling.

After retiring from her position at St. Andrew, Sister Marie Michael spent two years in Albuquerque as a volunteer at St. Martin’s Hospitality, a shelter for the homeless. Then she accepted an invitation to work in Washington D.C. on the diocesan Consortium of Schools, developing curriculum for central city schools.

Returning to Grand Rapids, she served the congregation as transportation coordinator for Marywood and Aquinata. She also served on the board of Holy Name School, now San Juan Diego Academy, advising on development, curriculum and recruitment.

In 2008, using her expertise in organizing fund-raising projects, Sister Marie Michael originated and led the inaugural “Golf Fore Dominicans” golf outing and auction which raises financial support for the congregation.


Sister Marie Michael is survived by her sisters-in-law Karma Jacobs (Jack) and Kathleen Jacobs (Donald); many nieces, nephews, friends and members of her Dominican community.

Deceased

Entered eternal life on September 5, 2018 at the age of 88 after 69 years of religious life

We commend Sister Marie Michael to your prayers.

Prayer Ministry

Pray for community, justice, and peace

Our annual Dollars Fore Dominicans Golf Outing originated with a plan by Sr Marie Michael Jacobs in 2008. This fun, lively gathering reflects the energy of this lively Sister.

Sr. Marie Michael with Dollars Fore Dominicans co-chairs Linda Burpee and Sara Smolenski at our 2018 event. We honored Sr Marie Michael’s long commitment to the event.

Sister Marie Michael prized community life and the wonderful friendships she established within the congregation.

Pictured left to right: Sisters Marie Michael Jacobs, Margaret Mary Birchmeier, Lillian Bockheim, and Chris Herald

“After being assigned to St. Joe’s and Sacred Heart in Saginaw [1962 and 1963] my life has never been the same,” she said. Her missionary urge was reawakened by her awareness of central city needs. She became involved in the N.A.A.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the Diocesan Human Relations Commission, N.A.W.R (National Association of Women Religious), voter registration, Peace and Justice Commission and more. (Read More in The Grand Rapids Press)

In 1986, Sister Marie Michael was one of three private school principals from the United States and Puerto Rico (and the first Catholic one) recognized by the National Distinguished Principals Program. Among other honors she received are the YWCA Tribute Award (1982), the GRACE (Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism) Church/Community Recognition Award (1984) and the Hugh Michael Beahan Award (1988).

In ministry with †Sister Marie Michael Jacobs, OP

Sister Inspiration: Marie Michael Jacobs, OP

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2009 Jubilarians

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Her High Expectations: Principal at St. Andrews Elementary School

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Sister Inspiration: Marie Michael Jacobs, OP

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St. Andrews Principal Wins National Honor

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Services for Sister Marie Michael Jacobs, OP

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