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Sister Irene McGrath, ASC

 Adorers of the Blood of Christ


Sister Irene (Mary Luke) McGrath, ASC, of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, died peacefully at 7:53 p.m. at Benedictine Living Community at the Shrine on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. She was 95 years old and had been professed for 78 years.

“One thing I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord all my days”
Psalms 27

April 21, 2023

Sister Irene (Mary Luke) McGrath, ASC, of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, died peacefully at 7:53 p.m. at Benedictine Living Community at the Shrine on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. She was 95 years old and had been professed for 78 years.

Sister Irene was one of seven children born to the late Thomas and Clara (Begnel) McGrath in Woodson, Illinois; her home parish was St. Bartholomew in Murrayville, Illinois. She made her first profession on July 1, 1944 in Ruma, Illinois, and final vows on July 1, 1949.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Religion, with minors in Education and Philosophy, from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1955. She earned her master’s in Library Science and Theology from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1965. She held certificates in Limited Elementary Supervision and Secondary Teaching in the state of Illinois. She became certified in Spiritual Direction through the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois, in 1979.

Sister Irene’s ministries were many and varied. She served as both an elementary and secondary teacher and organist; as director of parish religious education, renewal of the laity and house of prayer; as librarian, religious leader of the Ruma Center; as formation director of young candidates for religious life, on-going spiritual education of the sisters of the former Ruma Province, and also as the Provincial Superior of the province.

Her elementary teaching included St. Elizabeth in East St. Louis, Sacred Heart in Dupo, St. Albert the Great in Fairview Heights, St. Joseph in Olney, all in Illinois, as well as Visitation in Vienna, Missouri. She taught at St. Teresa Academy in East St. Louis and at Precious Blood Institute, a high school for girls on the grounds of the Province Center. She was the parish religion coordinator for St. Francis Xavier in Carbondale and St. Andrew in Murphysboro, in Illinois. Her work with adult formation included being Director of Jerusalem House of Prayer in Sedalia, Missouri, and Director of Renewal of the Laity for the Diocese of Jefferson City in Missouri. Following her certification in Spiritual Direction, she served in this capacity in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sister Irene was named the Provincial Superior of the former Ruma Province in 1972. She was known as a woman of prayer, but also in touch with the reality of our times. In the early seventies, she was keenly aware that the “experience of ourselves and of our world tells us all too clearly that there is a crying need of reconciliation” within each person, between persons, and between the person and God. She planned a Summer of Reconciliation in 1974 for the Province of Ruma. A variety of types of retreats was scheduled at the King’s House of Retreats in Belleville, Illinois, 30-day retreats, individually-directed and small-group retreats, and preached retreats. Each sister was invited to choose one of these.

Sister Irene was a life-long learner, a teacher comfortable with her subject, even when it was the Enneagram, a program designed to help the person understand herself and her neighbors in a deeper, more compassionate way.

Her enjoyments included reading, walking, music, the beauty of nature, and quiet time. She was always open to a thoughtful conversation about spiritual journeys and newly-discovered insights. She gave any visitor a warm welcome, letting them know she was grateful for a time to chat. Small kindnesses touched her deeply. Sister Irene looked for the best in others and expressed her joy when one of the sisters or the staff at Ruma had some success.

She loved her family and had a strong relationship with each of them, delighting in the time they could visit or even talk on the phone. She maintained close relationships with nieces and nephews.

Sister Irene was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Marie (Harold) Drainer and Helen (Coy) Graham; her brothers Leonard (Teresa), Vincent (Leona), Thomas, and Leo McGrath. She is survived by her sister-in-law Leeanne, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.

Visitation will be at 9:45 a.m. at Benedictine Living Community at the Shrine on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. The Mass of the Resurrection will begin at 11:15 a.m. Following Mass, the Funeral Procession will travel to the Ruma ASC Cemetery for burial.

Adorers of the Blood of Christ
United States Region
April 21, 2023

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