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EULOGY

“Your adornment must not be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Sister M. Alacoque was born on September 20, 1922 to Felix and Hedwig Czartoryski and named Sophie after her father’s sister. At the age or 16, Felix left Poland stowed away on a ship that headed to America. Soon upon arrival, he got a job at a steel and wire company. However, it wasn’t until 16 years later that he met Hedwig, who was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. Soon afterwards Felix and Hedwig were married and together they settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that Sophie was born and a year and 5 days later their son, Leonard.

Felix, a descendant of royalty, did not want to lose touch with his native Poland and insisted that only Polish be spoken at home. He taught his wife, daughter and son his native language, customs and traditions. While Sophie was very fluent in Polish, she could not speak English. Therefore when it was time for Sophie to start school, she was not admitted into the local Catholic school. After being tutored in English, along with her mother and brother, Sophie entered second grade at St. Casimir School.

As a child, Sophie was a very happy and social little girl. She liked to play games such as hopscotch, tennis and jump rope, but her favorite thing was riding her brother’s bike. Sophie did this when her brother wasn’t looking!

Since Sophie’s mother worked at a sweater factory, it was Sophie’s responsibility to help at home with cooking, picking vegetables and washing dishes. In spite of these chores, Sophie found time to help the Sisters after school by grading papers and cleaning the chapel. Sophie felt herself drawn to religious life because she was in awe of how pristine the Sisters looked in their habits. When Sophie finally told her parents about her desire to become a Sister, her mother was thrilled, her father was very much against the idea. Despite her father’s refusal, Sophie made plans to enter the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. She traveled by train and arrived on July 31, 1937 at the age of 15.

Sophie’s first years in the convent were spent as a student in high school. Finally on August 12, 1939, Sophie entered the novitiate and received the name of Sister Mary Alacoque. Two years later, she made her First Profession of vow on August 15, 1941 and her Final Profession on August 12, 1946.

After making her vows, Sister M. Alacoque spent five years at the motherhouse and St. Joseph Home for the Aged which was attached to the motherhouse. Sister was appointed the Director of the Residents' Dining Room for the first three years and then served in the motherhouse kitchen, garden, laundry and Chapel for the remaining two years.

Sister’s teaching career began in 1946 at Five Holy Martyrs in Chicago where she taught Kindergarten and then first grade. In 1949, Sister went to teach first grade at St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr in Chicago. Sister was at this school for 3 years until she went to teach Kindergarten and first grade at St. Mary in Hammond, Indiana.

It was noted that Sister had a knack for sewing and as a result she was encouraged to get a degree in Home Economics. With this objective in mind, Sister M. Alacoque went to Mundelein College in Chicago in 1953 and two years later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Home Economics. Later in 1963, Sister obtained a Master of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University in De Kalb, Illinois. Never one to remain stagnant, Sister completed some course work toward a Doctorate in Home Economics and obtained various certifications in dietary administration.

For 17 years, Sister M. Alacoque taught sewing and home nursing as part of the Home Economics Program at Madonna High School in Chicago. For the next two years, from 1972 to 1974, Sister attended the School for Dieticians at Augustana Hospital in Chicago. Completing that course, Sister went to St. John Hospital in Huron, South Dakota as the Dietician Director and Local Minister. Sister remained there until 1977 when she was transferred to Mount Alverna Home in Parma, Ohio to serve in the same position. In 1984, Sister returned to Madonna High School for a year and served as Maintenance Supervisor. Back to Ohio in 1985, Sister served as Sacristan and Local Minister at Mount Alverna Home until 1991.

In November of that year, Sister had the unique experience of traveling to Poland where she taught English to grade school children during the day and to their parents in the evening. Sister came to Lemont, Illinois in 1992 to Our Lady of Victory Convent, commonly referred to as the motherhouse for a Sabbatical year. Between 1993 and 2002 Sister served as local minister at OLV, then as local minister of the Sisters working at Mother Theresa Home and finally as local minister of the Infirmary. In 2002 Sister was appointed Minister of Hospitality for OLV, a position she held until 2014. Even after a serious illness in 2014 Sister M. Alacoque continued to perform various small duties. Sister especially enjoyed taking visitors through Heritage Hall and also sharing her vocation story.

A highlight in Sister’s life occurred on October 22, 2011, when she was honored as the first recipient of the Franciscan Weaver Award, an award that honors a Franciscan Sister of Chicago who embodies the Franciscan charism and shows Franciscan joy in her daily life. Even though Sister was a descendant of Polish royalty, she served others generously in a quiet manner. Her thoughtful demeanor brought individuals closer to God.

As many years as Sister M. Alacoque spent at OLV, she spent her last day in the ER of Bolingbrook Hospital. The General Minister, the General Vicar and the Director of OLV Infirmary were with Sister M. Alacoque during her final hours on earth. After 80 years of religious life and two days shy of her 95th birthday, Sister M. Alacoque died peacefully at 7:47 A.M. on Monday, September 17th, to be with Jesus whom she loved and served with all her heart.