Birth: July 24, 1926
Profession: July 31, 1953
Death: August 12, 2015
Religious of the Sacred Heart Mary Munch died Wednesday, August 12, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Remembered for the pleasure she found in domestic crafts such as cooking, sewing and gardening, her life will be celebrated with a funeral Mass on Saturday, September 5 at 10:00 am in the Oakwood chapel, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton. Burial will be in the Society of the Sacred Heart cemetery at Oakwood.
Born July 24, 1926, in Omaha, Nebraska to Mary Josepha Unger and Henry Charles Munch, Mary Josepha Munch was the first of nine children, seven girls and two boys. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by three of her sisters: Frances (Mrs. Robert) Hadley, Joan (Mrs. Harold) Henry and Virginia (Mrs. James) Engler. She is survived by her two brothers, Henry Munch of Bellevue, Nebraska and Fred Munch of Omaha and three sisters: Marjorie (Mrs. Robert) Carlson of Laramie, Wyoming, Cecilia (Mrs. Edward) McColley of Omaha and Patricia Munch, RSCJ, Houston, Texas, numerous nieces and nephews and grand and great-grand nephews and nieces, in addition to her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart. Her ready smile and quiet equanimity will be missed by the residents and staff at Oakwood.
Mary’s life at St. Joseph’s High School in Omaha began with a diagnosis of polio, resulting in being quarantined for thirty days. It was during this illness that she experienced being in a coma, hearing what was going on around her yet being unable to respond. Her experience during this time served her in later life in ministering to patients in similar circumstances. Thanks to her mother’s care, she was able to return to school for the second semester and later graduate with her class.
When she first went to Duchesne College, Omaha, which was operated by the Society of the Sacred Heart, she fell in love with everything immediately and later knew that she was called to enter the Society of the Sacred Heart. She entered the novitiate at Kenwood, in Albany, NY, on June 7, 1945 and pronounced first vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart on December 8, 1947.
Her first assignment was to teach the youngest children at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in her hometown of Omaha. Besides teaching, she was also involved in the Altar Society, which made vestments for the missions. After her second year at Duchesne, Sister Munch was sent to the Sacred Heart elementary school in Lake Forest, Illinois, where she taught and supervised the dormitory. She made her final vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart July 31, 1953, in Rome.
Sister Munch taught one more year in Lake Forest before moving to the Schools of the Sacred Heart in Chicago to teach and tend the library in the boys’ school, and lead the singing program in the girls’ academy. She also served as sacristan and organist.
Sister Munch returned to Omaha in 1955, where she took home economics classes at Duchesne College. She taught one more year at Hardey Prep in Chicago, before once again returning to Omaha. From 1957 to 1966, she taught home economics in the college, while also serving as sacristan. When Duchesne College closed in 1968, she taught biology and home economics at Duchesne Academy.
In 1972, Sister Munch returned to Hardey Prep to open a science lab for the boys’ school. She taught middle school science for six years.
After receiving training, Sister Munch began a new ministry of spiritual direction spanning more than two decades in Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Kenwood in Albany, NY and various places in Seattle, Washington.
Sister Munch was seriously injured in 1996 when she was struck by a car in downtown Seattle. Blind in one eye, she gradually recovered, but realized that it was time to retire. She joined the Kenwood community, where she served in pastoral ministry. When Kenwood closed in 2007, Sister Munch joined the Oakwood community, where she devoted herself as librarian, gardener and artist, and excelled in sewing, knitting and needlework. Here she was once again invited to join the pastoral care team, and, above all, she found a wonderful environment for prayer.