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Sister Genevieve Kripas

SISTER GENEVIEVE KRIPAS (formerly Sister M. Ellenita)
April 11, 1925 – June 25, 2019

“it was Holy Saturday evening in April 11, 1925 that a baby girl was born to Anthony and Apolonia Kripas in the Bridgeport community of Chicago. She was given the name of Genevieve by the family physician after the simple French saint of Paris, St. Genevieve. She grew up with two other sisters in a stable home environment.” In this way Sister Genevieve began to reflect on her life at the time of her Golden Jubilee in 1994.

Both of her parents were born in Lithuania and emigrated to the United States. They raised their three daughters, Julia, Theresa, and Genevieve in a spirit of deep faith, a love for learning, and a spirit of service. They lived in Bridgeport and were proud to be able to say they lived on the Mayor’s street for Mayor Daley lived there and was seen by everyone as their good neighbor. Sister Genevieve attended St. George School in Bridgeport where the Sisters of St. Casimir were her teachers. At St. Casimir Academy she not only had the Sisters as teachers but had opportunities to converse with them and get to know them in a more personal way. In addition to that, some of the postulants were in class with her, and occasionally, she would see the novices. The chapel was open to everyone for visits and services. Sister Genevieve said that all these experiences “seemed to ignite flickers of desire to know more about these women and to want to be somehow associated with who they were and what they did.”

In her letter asking to enter the community, written in Lithuanian in beautiful handwriting, Sister Genevieve said that her one desire was to serve God with her whole heart the rest of her life, no matter what hardships she might encounter, and prayed that she would always be a faithful Sister. She was 17 when she wrote this. The rest of the story of her life attests to how well that prayerful desire was fulfilled.

Sister Genevieve entered the Sisters of St. Casimir in 1942. She made her first vows on August 15, 1944 and had the joy of celebrating her Silver Jubilee in 1969, her Golden Jubilee in 1994, and would have celebrated her Diamond, 75 years as a Sister of St. Casimir, this August.

Sister Genevieve’s first years in ministry were as a teacher in the middle grades at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School and Holy Cross School in Chicago, and St. Bartholomew School in Waukegan, IL. In 1950 she began her career in the ministry of health care as she was sent to St. Theresa Hospital in Waukegan IL to study nursing and went on to receive a B.S. degree in nursing from De Paul University in Chicago. Sister Genevieve worked as a registered nurse at Holy Cross Hospital and Loretto Hospital in Chicago, and Antelope Memorial Hospital in Neligh, Nebraska.

In 1961, Sister Genevieve received a M.S. degree from St. Louis University in Hospital Administration, and with that in hand, she served in Public Relations at Holy Cross Hospital and as administrator of Antelope Memorial Hospital for 7 years. It seemed that her path in health care kept opening to new horizons as she was asked in 1969 to go to Mt. Angel College in Oregon to study Nursing Home Administration.

From 1970 until 1984 Sister Genevieve served as administrator of St. Joseph Home in Holland, PA. The following was part of what was said about her by her colleagues: “Sister Genevieve has consistently exercised strong leadership, skillful efficiency, and a deep respect for the elderly and the employees of St. Joseph Home. Through the many efforts of Sister Genevieve and her co-workers, activities and programs, a family unity among the Sisters, the residents, the employees and friends has been successfully created.” What a wonderful, priceless legacy to leave behind.

When Sister Genevieve returned to Chicago, she was asked to be administrator of Holy Family Villa in Palos Park, IL and served in this capacity from 1984 until 1990. She was the last Sister of St. Casimir to serve in this capacity as she handed over this call to servant leadership into the capable hands of Roberta Magurani.

For the next seventeen years, Sister Genevieve lived at Maria High School Convent and served in various capacities, among them as the Sisters of St. Casimir Retirement Coordinator and the Sisters’ patient care representative at Holy Cross Hospital. Throughout eleven of those years Sister Genevieve also served as the moderator of the Sisters of St. Casimir Auxiliary, a ministry that she loved and gave herself to with all her heart. The Auxiliary is an outstanding institution established by our foundress, Venerable Maria Kaupas. Over its 99 year history, the Auxiliary has supported the life and mission of the Sisters of St. Casimir, gifting our community with monies earned from various fund raising events. When her own health care needs began to take precedence in her life, Sister Genevieve recommended that it was time to entrust this responsibility to a lay woman. Susan Binkis continues in that same spirit of dedication and commitment to our congregation.

When the Motherhouse was transferred to Catholic Charities of The Chicago Archdiocese, and the Sisters began the transition to Franciscan Village, Sister Genevieve was among the group who made their home in assisted living at Our Lady of Victory convent. As her health care needs increased, Sister Genevieve made the difficult move to Mother Theresa Home. Throughout her religious life the words “Welcome to the Holy Will of God” echoed in her heart as she tried to remain open to whatever was asked of her. She said, “When we put ourselves in the hands of the Lord to do as He wills, our lives unfold so much more fruitfully than we ever might plan for ourselves.”

The chaplain from hospice who was one of Sister Genevieve’s caregivers shared a story of how she asked if Sister Genevieve would be willing to visit one of the Lithuanian residents who was going through a difficult time. Of course, Sister Genevieve said yes. The chaplain recounts that as soon as Sister Genevieve was wheeled into the room and greeted the woman in Lithuanian, the woman’s face lit up and she smiled. The chaplain said that Sister Genevieve was so warm and friendly and always seemed to want to connect with people. So much so that she would often be found sitting in her wheelchair in the doorway of her room so she could greet or speak with whoever was passing by. She appreciated all the visits from her Sisters in community and all who came to see her, and because of her poor eyesight, greatly appreciated when someone read to her.

In all that she did, Sister Genevieve not only used the talents God had given her but brought the gift of her very human beautiful qualities of love and devotion, warmth and kindness, always trying to keep harmony and unity. These are the precious gifts of the heart that we will always remember.

Good and gracious God, welcome into your kingdom our beloved Sister Genevieve.