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Obituaries - October 2014

The Northern Cross - October 2014 




Maryknoll Sister Helen Gleason, 86; Cloquet native

Sister Helen Louise Gleason, MM, an educator in Hawaii for over 30 years, as well as in the Marshall Islands and Papua, New Guinea, died Sept. 11 at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, N.Y. She was 85 years old.

Born Jan. 20, 1929, in Cloquet, to William and Exilia Demers Gleason, she was one of 11 children.

A graduate of Cloquet High School, Helen, who is a descendant on her mother’s side of Jean Nicolet, an explorer of Lake Michigan, and Louis Joliet, explorer of the Mississippi River, entered the Maryknoll community in Valley Park, Mo., on Oct. 14, 1948. Her religious name was Sister M. Evelyn John.

After making first vows in Valley Park May 8, 1951, Sister Helen worked in the multigraph department at the congregation’s motherhouse. She professed final vows May 8, 1954.

From 1954 to 1956, she studied at Maryknoll Teachers College, Maryknoll, N.Y., receiving a bachelor’s degree in education in 1956. She was assigned to Hawaii, where she taught third-grade students in Kalihi, Oahu, from 1956 to 1962, first graders in Wailuku, Maui, from 1962 to 1971, and the primary grades at St. John’s School, Honolulu, from 1971 to 1975. While teaching at St. John’s, Sister Helen also served as CCD coordinator for St. Philomena’s Parish, also in Honolulu.

Sister Helen was sent to Majuro in the Marshall Islands, where she was principal of a grammar school, from 1975 to 1980. She returned to Hawaii, where she taught the primary grades at Maryknoll Grade School, Punahou, from 1980 to 1983.

After a brief period serving as principal and kindergarten teacher for St. Rose School in Proctor from 1983 to 1984, Sister Helen once more returned to Hawaii, where she was a kindergarten teacher at St. Ann’s School, Kaneohe, from 1984 to 1991.

Sister Helen was then sent to Papua, New Guinea, where she taught primary school children from 1991 to 1996. She later served as sacristan for the motherhouse in Maryknoll, N.Y., from 1996 until being sent to work on a Native American reservation in Red Lake in May 1999. Sister Helen worked as a teacher and librarian there through May 2000 when she was sent to a reservation in her hometown, Cloquet.

Sister Helen stayed in Cloquet until 2007, serving in a variety of capacities, including sacristan for Holy Family Parish, religious education teacher at Holy Family and Sts. Mary and Joseph Missions, member of Kateri Circle and Tekakwitha Conference, moderator for Cloquet Deanery of the Diocese of Duluth Council of Catholic Women, “reading buddy” for students at Little Black Bear Ojibwe School on the Fond du Lac Reservation and an area vocation promotion representative for her congregation.

Sister Helen also assisted as a reader and extrarodinary minister of Holy Communion at local Masses, and visited the sick in nursing care facilities, hospitals, and the homes of local shut-ins.

Sister Helen settled at the congregation’s residence in Monrovia, Calif., where she served as a driver and answered phones from 2007 to 2010. She returned to Cloquet, working as a school volunteer and resuming involvement with the Kateri Circle and Tekakwitha Conference, in 2010, finally returning to the motherhouse, where she has lived since 2012.

A vespers service was held for Sister Helen Sept. 22, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial Sept. 23, both held at the Annunciation Chapel, Maryknoll Sisters Center. Burial is in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Maryknoll Sisters Center grounds.

Father Paul Ojibway, 63, Fond du Lac Chippewa member

Father Paul Ojibway, SA, Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, died Aug. 10 in Washington, D.C. He was 63 years old. A wake service was held Aug. 20, and a Mass of Christian Burial on Aug. 21 in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, N.Y.

Father Ojibway was born in Portland, Ore. He studied psychology at St. Mary’s College of California and earned degrees in theology from the Catholic University of America and in graduate study in depth psychology, spirituality and faith formation from the John XXIII Institute for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University. He professed as an Atonement Friar in 1974, made his final vows in 1977 and was ordained a priest in May 1978.

In 1974, he was youth minister at Christ the King in Sterling Park, Va., and in 1978 he was part of the parish ministry at St. Joseph the Worker in Richmond, British Columbia. In the 1980s he was Director of the Newman Center at Los Angeles City College in California. An enrolled member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa of Minnesota, Father Ojibway worked in Native American ministries in California from 1989 to 1993. His goal was to gather together the existing Catholic Indian community in Los Angeles and identify their pastoral and social needs and be a bridge between Native Americans and the wider Catholic community.

In 1993, he became Director of American Indian Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Native American ministries. He was also an advisor to the White House on urban American Indian affairs, the President’s Initiative on Race, intergovernmental relations, and advisor to the White House Office of Religious Liaison. He returned to the east coast in 1995 to serve as Director of the Interfaith Impact Foundation working on legislative issues.

In 2001, he served as pastoral associate at St. Monica’s Church in Orinda, Calif., and as campus minister at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. He served the Atonement Friars as director of vocations from 1986 to 1988. In 2009, he was elected to a five-year term by his religious brothers to serve as Fourth General Councilor. In 2010, he relocated to Washington, D.C. to serve as guardian of the Atonement friary and director of postulants in the United States.

Father Ojibway is the son of the late Beatrice Ojibway Rich and stepson of the late James Rich. He is survived by his cousins, Maurice and Rita Ojibway and Susanne Ojibway Townsend.