S. Eileen O'Connor OSB, age 74, died on Tuesday, January 26, 2016. A wake service will be held at 7:00 PM on Friday, January 29, 2016, and the Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 AM, on Saturday, January 30, both in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel in Yankton, South Dakota. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Yankton.
Eileen Veronica was born on July 28, 1941 the second child to Hugh and Eileen (O'Shea) O'Connor of Brooklyn, New York. She attended St. Agatha and St. Brenden Parochial Schools in Brooklyn graduating on June 24, 1958. She had many fond memories working with her mother cleaning house for wealthy families in Brooklyn during her growing years. Her parents were benefactors to St. Joseph Indian School at Chamberlain, South Dakota which drew Eileen's heart to South Dakota and Sacred Heart Monastery. Eileen entered Sacred Heart Monastery August 20, 1958 and attended Mount Marty College. She was invested as a novice on June 28, 1959 and made first profession June 29, 1960. With a teaching certificate, her first mission was to St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. She later received her BA from Mount Marty College in Yankton, and MA from Augustana College in Sioux Falls.
Her ministerial life was spent in teaching positions in Chamberlain and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Lincoln, Nebraska. After many years of teaching, she was asked to fill a new role at St. Therese Parish in Sioux Falls as a Pastoral Minister. Here she filled the gaps in existing ministries and attended to the needs of a growing Church. She often could be seen riding her bike to visit parishioners and always extended a welcoming smile. She was a Pastoral Minister for seventeen years until asked to be the Vocation Director and assist with Oblates at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton. S. Eileen celebrated life and her Irish heritage at every opportunity often dancing a jig or singing with the Sweet Adelines. Her bicycle was her preferred means of transportation and she appreciated good books and movies. She embodied the word "volunteer" and would lend a helping hand in service to friend and stranger alike. She was a Big Friend and Pen Pal to children, and had a special place in her heart for people who suffered mental illness or were incarcerated. She never hesitated extending the merciful hand of Christ to another, saying, "It is good for me to be here".
S. Eileen is survived by her Benedictine community, her sister, Terry (Dan) Heffernan, six nieces and nephews and fifteen great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Mary Christine.
Messages will be reviewed and posted within 1 business day.
My thoughts and prayers to S. Eileen's Benedictine Community and her family. I am grateful for having the opportunity to get to know S. Eileen through Toastmasters and to call her a friend. She had a wonderful smile and such a positive presence. She taught me one of the Rules of St. Benedict "Listen with the Ear of Your Heart". When I read or hear this, I always think of her. S. Eileen always listened with the ear of her heart.
"It is good for me to be here".
Countless times has Big Friend-Little Friend heard this phrase. Whether it was mentoring her Little Friend, attending a monthly Fun Function or discussing ways to grow the program at our board meetings, Sr. Eileen was always there with a smile on her face. She brought out the best in us all, youth and adults alike. We joked that no matter how poor of a day we may have had, when Sr. Eileen showed up our frowns were turned upside down. It will be hard to fill the void left in Sr. Eileen's wake, as she was always helping somewhere in the community. We will always remember her for her caring attitude and giving personality. Guiding others was indeed a passion of hers, as she kindly shared her positive outlook on life with all who made time to listen. She was truly a mentor to people of all ages.
We will miss you, dear Sister. Thank you for all the time we were blessed to have with you, and for all the positive impact you had on our lives.
Big Friend-Little Friend
Sr. Eileen was truly a ray of sunshine in our lives. Her positive attitude and love of life and the Lord were such an inspiration to all of our family. We were neighbors to her for a bit and we loved starting out our day with her positive words! We have many wonderful Sr. Eileen memories. She has and always will have a special place in our hearts. We will miss her smile and enthusiastic, faith-filled approach to life. We all have another angel in heaven to pray to. We love you Sr. Eileen! Prayers for her family!!!
Trish and Jay Hanisch and girls
God blessed those around her. She was a spirit that lit up a room. I and so many will miss her presence.
My favorite memory of her is watching her swimming with a swim cap on at the lake surrounded by all the Little Friends from Big Friend Little Friend.
We will greatly miss Sr. Eileen at Sacred Heart Middle School. She was an inspiration to all of us, and we feel truly blessed to have known her. Sr. Eileen generously took over a pen pal project at Sacred Heart School. She was instrumental in making sure this program continued by transporting the 5th graders to the Monastery to visit their Sister Pen Pal and delivering letters and gifts back and forth between the Sister pen pals and the students. She also came into our classroom to talk to us about St. Patrick and even did an Irish jig for us!!! She always had a smile on her face and was always thanking God for the beautiful day. We love you Sr. Eileen and we miss you.
Mrs. Geigle and her 5th grade class
A wonderful friend while we worked together at St. Joseph's Indian School in the '60's. A smile that could light up a room.
Denis and Sandy Lepkowski
I will always remember Sister Eileen and the part she played in our lives at Little Flower School and the old St. Therese Church on 6th Street in Sioux Falls. She always had a moment to talk, a sweet smile or a hand wave when you would see her in the halls. Bless you Sister Eileen! You will be missed! Enjoy your well deserved home in heaven.
Jo (Koob) Hauglid
we met many years ago at Chamberlain while my Aunt Sister Christine was missioned there. I was there to see if I should enter Sacred Heart Monestary or St Paul's Monestary in St. Paul. I ended up with St Paul's Monestary but my heart was always with Yankton. We each went our ways, you became a teacher, I became a nurse. We reconnected again years later and it was the best gift I was ever given, your friendship. The time we were able to spend together, the talks we shared were life changing for me. Your words were always so uplifting, the sincere interest you always displayed, the intense and strong Faith just radiated forth from you. Your generous heart, your giving of yourself, the warmth you had accepting of another no matter who they are, your encouraging words . I could go on and on. You were truly a gift from GOD and I was certainly blessed to have you in my life. I will always have you in my heart and prayers. But I am asking for your prayers to continue as they were before GOD called you home. I will miss you immensely. Today I'm having a very difficult time with your leaving but I also realize that you are in the arms of our DEAR LORD. Remember me in your prayers my friend!! Love you!
I'm grateful to have met Eileen through Pax Christi. The joy she shared, her colorful presence, open and loving, made for enjoyable conversations. I'm so happy for her, though she'll be greatly missed!
Leona R. Wieland
I will miss S. Eileen's loving, caring presence. Her smile was wonderful and she helped very many.
S. Mary Lou Geraets
How sad for all of us that are left behind! Sr Eileen was a wonderful teacher, woman of God and friend. As a small little girl I would knock on the convent door and ask if Sr. Eileen could come out to play. And she always did! She loved to ride bikes and be around children. She is the reason I went into Elementary Education. In my 31 years as a kindergarten/second grade teacher, I often think back to her "book cart" that you were allowed to help her push through the classrooms of St Lamberts and how patient she was to let a 6 year old help her out up her bullitan boards. Heaven has gained another angel!
Karen Vick Mckee
Will always cherish our friendship.Eileen was the reflection of Jesus.
Sister Eileen was my first grade teacher at St. Lamberts in Sioux Falls. I remember when she lived across the street and once in awhile we got to walk over to her house and go inside. It was so peaceful in there. Even to this day when she saw me she knew my name. She will be missed by many.
Teresa (McFarlane) Jones
Sister Eileen was an important part of my life as an Oblate. We loved to have her come to visit and listen to my Dad and her compare notes on growing up in Irish families in New York City. I miss her!
I remember Sister Eileen teaching at St Lamberts, very kind heart and always so good to the kids. She will be missed.
There are some souls who cross your path that radiate love, laughter and pure light and make this world a brighter place just because they are in it. This kind lady was one of them.
Sister Eileen O'Connor, you shall be missed for your wonderfully crazy hats, the sparkling Irish twinkle in your eyes and for being one of the most enthusiastic bicyclists always offering up a friendly wave and a smile!
No matter where I was in life you always expressed genuine interest in the lives and well being of others. You enriched your fellow humankind.
Fare Thee Well, friend!
Dave Lyons, Austin, TX
Our deepest sympathy and memories to keep us going for many years!
Vern & Kay Myers
We met Sister Eileen at St Theresa Parish. I just loved her. She was always helping others and full of spirit. I was amazed on how much energy she had. May you rest in peace Sister Eileen. My deepest sympathy to family and friends. She was a special lady.
I remember taking a mission trip in college with Sister Eileen and Sister Barbara McTague to the Wakpala Native American reservation and to parts of North Dakota. She was truly a wonderful and inspiring person, and I will always cherish the memories I have of working and spending time with her.
Sister Eileen was a rare gift to all the kids she taught at St. Lamberts. She was always a happy spirit and full of encouragement for the students. Whenever I would see her years later she was still the same, she never waivered in her faith in myself and others she taught. I can still picture her eyes and hear her joyful laugh. She will indeed be missed.
Sister Eileen was just like a mother to me. She was always there for me and we used to have wonderful conversations. I received many wonderful letters from her throughout the years. Was was loved by many, and my family is one who loved her advice, smile, and witty humor. She always wanted me to come and stay with her for a weekend, but could not find the time. Now it is to late, but she will be forever missed and always in our hearts.
Todd and Lisa Compson
To my Aunt Ronnie,
My Aunt Ronnie was the best but now since she's gone we have to remember all the good times we've had with her. It was always fun writing letters to her and hearing about her day and what she's done. She would always show me beautiful pictures of places in South Dakota. I loved going to the beach with her it was so much fun. If you were feeling down she would always make you feel good and overall she was the best great Aunt EVER... And we will all miss her. ❤️
Andrew is our grandson, son of Paul & Mai Heffernan.
Dan & Terry Heffernan
J.M.J. May +Sister Eileen rest in peace. I was pleased to offer the Holy Mass for her Soul's everlasting repose. I have fond memories of her happy greetings. During the last few years, she gave to me many used Catholic books, including Holy Bibles, through her dear friend Clarice Lalley that I have been able to distribute. May Jesus and May comfort all those who mourn the passing of +Sister Eileen.
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
Sincere condolences from all Sr. Eileen's cousins in Ireland. She was great for keeping in touch and sending cards. She loved Ireland and was proud of her Irish heritage. May the light of heaven shine upon her. Love from cousin Pauline.
Deepest Sympathy to all the Benedictine community, her sister Terry and all her nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.We have fond memories of Sr Eileen when she visited Kerry in Ireland many years ago. We kept in touch by mail and looked forward to her Christmas card and few words every Christmas. She loved her Irish heritage and she will always have a place in our hearts. "Ar dheis de go raibh a h-anam dilis."
From her cousins in Ireland, Mary and Kathleen Heffernan (Cait O Connor).
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