Kathleen Foley, CSJ
March 16, 1930 – February 28, 2015
Come, O God who wandered with the people of old,
Show us the way to your surprises.
Come, O Trinity, even now, to share your love of each other with us.
Gather us to your community of love with all of your prophets.
Kathleen Foley, 1991
Kathleen Laura Foley, CSJ (Sister Rose Michael) was born in Minneapolis on March 16, 1930, the fifth of seven children born to Tracy (Shandl) and John Foley. She was baptized on March 31st at the Church of St. Helena. Kathleen attended St. Albert Elementary School and graduated from St. Anthony High School in 1947.
She told the story, “As a child one conversation with my mother remains in my memory. It must have hurt her that we laughed when she said she was born in Bakony Koppany. Many, many years later I found it on a map of Hungary. Years after that I visited her first cousins in Bakony Koppany.
At St. Albert’s Grade School once a year we were asked where our parents were born. I’m not sure what I said in the primary grades but later when I answered, ‘Hungary,’ I felt self-conscious. Clearly I was different from the other children all of whose parents were born in Minneapolis or some place in the United States or even Ireland or Sweden. I wish I would have known then what I know now. How blessed to be Hungarian and Irish.”
On September 8, 1947 Kathleen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in the St. Paul Province, received the habit on March 19, 1948 and made her first vows March 20, 1950.
Kathleen studied at the Diocesan Teachers’ College and received her BA in English and Education from the College of St. Catherine in 1961.
She began her years in education when she was missioned to teach fourth and fifth grades in Stillwater. Later she became principal of St. Gregory’s School in St. Paul. Until 1978 Kathleen served as principal at various Archdiocesan schools, most of those years at St. Michael’s in Stillwater. During her time in Stillwater she initiated and completed the merger of St. Mary’s School in Stillwater, St. Charles School in Bayport and St. Michael’s, with the merged school known as St. Croix Catholic School.
Teachers, consultants, parents said, “Her excellent work with the board, teachers, pastors, groups of parents, and the local school district has paid off in valuable benefits for the students. Kathleen is practical, possesses great personal peace and strength, is alert to people’s needs, has a sense of humor which is hearty, kind and, always with smiling blue eyes.”
During these years she earned an MA in Theology from Notre Dame University and an Educational Specialist degree from the University of St. Thomas.
In 1978, Kathleen became Elementary School Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She continued her work for the Archdiocese in various educational roles until 1984, when she started her ministry in the Theology Department at the University of St. Thomas where she taught New Testament and initiated the Focus on Theology Program. During this time she co-authored, with her friend Peggy O’Leary, the book Daily Prayer in the Classroom.
In 1988, Sister Mary Heinen was elected Director of the St. Paul Province and asked Kathleen and Frieda Kalenze to be her assistants.
The summer after her term in province leadership, Kathleen, Mary Heinen, and Peggy O’Leary traveled to Europe, including Hungary, the birthplace of her mother. During that trip they had unexpected, surprise visits with sisters from Eastern Europe who had lived “underground” during the 40 years of the Communist regime. Kathleen wrote after that trip, “We may have a contribution to make to the sisters in Eastern Europe. We may even learn some day what that is. But for now, what we do know is that we have far more to learn from them.”
That fall Kathleen returned to the Theology Department at St. Thomas, where she taught until 1999. Throughout these years Kathleen served on many boards and committees of the Sisters of St. Joseph as well as on Archdiocesan boards and committees. During these years she took a semester off and went to Hungary to teach high school boys at a Benedictine Monastery School in Gyor, and had experiences she had never anticipated. She always said, “I taught them and they taught me. They knew how to learn.”
Kathleen then developed and directed the Forum for Sisters, a program which focused on broadening relationships between sisters from the United States and those from Eastern Europe.
For many years Kathleen was an active member of the Lumen Christi Catholic Community.
Kathleen’s unexpected death came on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at Carondelet Village. She was preceded in death by her parents, her siblings, Mary Rose, Jim, and Phil. She is survived by her brothers Ray, Ed and his wife Colleen, her sister Jeanette, nieces and nephews, her dear friend Peggy O’Leary, CSJ, the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates, and her caregivers at Carondelet Village. A funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday, March 3, 2015 followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery.
May Kathleen Rest in Peace