Sister Marcella Schrant, 95, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 76th year of religious life. She was a native of Walker, Kan.
Sister Marcella was an Ursuline Sister of Paola, Kan., prior to the merger with Mount Saint Joseph in 2008. She exuded hospitality to all she met, loved to travel and shared her excellent cooking skills wherever she lived. She believed we all need to “bring our own sunshine.”
She joined the Ursuline Sisters in 1945. In 1957, she earned a bachelor of science degree from Mount St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College), Atchison, Kansas.
All of her ministry was in Kansas until retiring to Maple Mount in 2014. She was a teacher for 43 years at Holy Name, Kansas City (1947-54, 1961-69), St. Agnes, Roeland Park (1954-57, 1969-90) and St. Patrick/Holy Trinity, Paola (1957-61). She was elected superior of her community (1990-94). She was a receptionist at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, (1994-2004) and office assistant at St. John the Evangelist Parish (2007-14), both in Lawrence. She was pastoral associate at Holy Family Parish, Eudora (2004-07). She volunteered in the Mission Advancement office at Maple Mount from 2015-20.
Survivors include the members of her religious community; her sister, Virginia Schrant, Garnett, Kan.; her niece Linda (Greg) Schnose; three great nieces, Christina, Elise and Marsea, and seven great great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry and Katherine Schrant; and her siblings Ralph Schrant, Louis Schrant, Herman Schrant, Norbert Schrant, and Anna Marie Truan.
The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at Mount Saint Joseph, where visitation will begin Thursday at 4 p.m. A wake service follows at 6:30 p.m. All safety protocols will be in place. Both the wake service and funeral will be live streamed.
Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is in charge of arrangements.
Donations in memory of Sister Marcella may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.
Remembrance for Sister Marcella Schrant
September 30, 2021
Sister Amelia Stenger, OSU, Congregational Leader
There is a quote from Proverbs that was printed in several of the articles that were written about Sister Marcella. It says, “Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Proverbs 31:31.
This short verse from Scripture truly does describe Sister Marcella Schrant. She labored for many years and is now reaping the rewards as she enters the gates of heaven. Surely there was praise for her as she joined so many of her family members and our Ursuline Saints. When she was called on September 25 at 10:20 a.m., she answered the call quickly, leaving us to remember all the good that she did in her life.
Marcella Catherine Schrant was born on June 17, 1926, to Henry Schrant and Catherine Etzel Schrant. She was the fifth of seven children. Her brothers and sisters were, Marie, Louis, Herman, Ralph, Norbert, and Virginia. All are deceased except Virginia. She is not able to come to be with us, but we offer her our sympathy and prayers. We hope that she is watching on live stream. We pray with her niece, Linda, who is with us along with her husband, Greg. We are glad you are here to celebrate Sister Marcella’s life.
Marcella was born on a farm in Walker, Kansas. She was baptized at St. Ann Church in Walker on June 18, 1926. She was confirmed at St. Ann Church in Walker on April 13, 1937. They lived about a half mile from town, and they walked to school each day. The Sisters of St. Agnes from Wisconsin taught them. Often during those early years, she would say that she was going to be a sister when she grew up. She would play being a teacher. When she was thirteen, they moved from the farm in Walker to the Eastern part of Kansas to another small farming community in Richmond, Kansas. They lived three miles from town, so they went to a one room schoolhouse a mile from where they lived. She said it was a fun year.
Marcella attended high school at Richmond High in Richmond, Kansas. During two of the years during the summer, Ursuline Sisters came to teach Bible school for two weeks. She said that her last year of high school was fun and many people came from colleges and business schools to entice them to come to their schools. She and a girlfriend decided to enroll in a business school in Kansas City. They both thought they wanted to become secretaries. Her friend had two aunts in the Ursuline Order and the Sisters found out about the two of them. Two of the sisters came to see them and told them that they could take all the secretarial subjects at Ursuline. Marcella told the sisters that she couldn’t afford to go there and that she needed to go to the business college because they allowed graduates to pay after they got jobs. The Sisters told them that they could work while they went to school and then pay the rest later. They went to Ursuline and during the second semester, Marcella joined the convent.
Marcella joined the Ursuline Sisters on January 23, 1945, as a postulant. On October 21, 1945, ten months later, she received her new name of Sister Mary James. She made her first profession on October 21, 1947 and went on her first mission that same month. She said they needed someone at Holy Name School in Kansas City, Kansas and she was ready to go. She taught second grade in the afternoon and in the morning, she kept house. Sister Mildred Katzer taught there in the morning. The following year, she had the first and second grades. That began her forty-three years as an educator, with one of those years as a principal. All those years were spent at three schools in eastern Kansas. She said, “I enjoyed Holy Name. I was there seven years. There were five of us in the house. We didn’t have cars back then.” During her time at Holy Name, she made her final profession on October 21, 1950.
In 1954, she went to St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. While there she taught second grade. During the remainder of her years in education she would teach the rest of the grades. She taught religion to the fifth and sixth grades during much of that time. She was then asked to go to the junior high to teach seventh and eighth grade. Her favorite subject to teach was math, while the most difficult was teaching religion to five classes a day.
She served as a teacher at St. Patrick/Holy Trinity in Paola from 1957-1961, then returned to Holy Name from 1961-1969. The last year she was there she was principal. She said, “The last year I was principal, I asked not to be principal anymore.”
In between all the years of teaching, Marcella went to summer school to get her degree in education. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Mount Saint Scholastica, now Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. There were many certificates and awards in her archives folder. She was always finding new ways of learning things. She was also involved in other activities during the summers. For several years she worked at a camp the sisters ran outside Paola for girls 8 to 12. Sister Marcella said, “We had 100 girls the first year. Sister Millie was in charge and told Mother Charles, the superior that I’d be a good one to teach, boating. I had never been in a boat in my life. One of the counselors taught me how to teach boating.” Apparently, everything went okay because she worked at another camp for three more years.
In 1967, a young pastor arrived at Holy Name who would become a lifelong friend to Sister Marcella. Father Jerry Spencer enjoyed meeting the Ursuline Sisters and remained pastor at Holy Name parish and chaplain at the University of Kansas Medical Center. During the years that followed, Sister Marcella volunteered at the hospital and was recognized for more than 1,000 hours of service. Father Jerry was a good friend to Sr. Marcella and the Ursuline Sisters until his death several years ago.
In 1969, she returned to St. Agnes school where she spent the next twenty-one years teaching. Her students loved listening to her and enjoyed all the activities she planned with them. It was during this time that she did one of her best activities with the sixth-grade students. They decided to make a long skirt out of different colored eight- inch blocks. Each student selected a state and embroidered the state’s name, the date, and the order of admission into the union. “It was an ambitious project for the non-sewers, but it worked out quite well,” she said. It was a great project and nearly all the students said it was fun. But one, either more honest or more outspoken than the rest, Tom Hosty, said, “I wouldn’t want to do it again.” Sister Marcella, for whom the jumper was planned and made, wore the skirt/jumper on July 4 this year.
In 1990, she was elected as superior of the community for four years. She described her four-year leadership term as “peaceful years.” Those serving with her on the team were Sisters Susanne Bauer, Rita Lavigne, Jane Falke and Helen Smith. Sister Susanne and Sister Jane, we offer you our sympathy and prayers. She said that the job was challenging but one of the greatest experiences she had during her time as superior was to go to Rome to meet with all the other Ursuline Superiors of the world.
After she completed her years as Superior of the community, she became the receptionist at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence, KS. This was the Catholic campus ministry center for students, faculty and staff at The University of Kansas. Sr. Marcella became an honorary Jayhawk and the greatest cheerleader for KU—especially the basketball program. During her 10 years there, she made many new young friends among the students, and she was also fortunate to travel to Rome (again!) with the choir from the St. Lawrence Center.
Sr. Marcella left the Campus Center in 2004 and then took a position at the small Holy Family Parish in Eudora, Kansas. She said, “I went there to visit the homebound and pray for the religious education program and ended up running it all.” There was not a priest at the parish. She said that it was a blessing when the archbishop sent a letter in 2007 saying that he was sending a priest there.
Her next ministry was facilitated by Father John Schmeidler, a Capuchin Franciscan who asked her to come to St. John’s parish in Lawrence where he was the pastor. She became the office assistant for the parish where she recorded all the baptisms and marriages, sorted and delivered the mail and took care of Mass intentions. Fr. John said of her, “You will not find a more charitable person, whether it’s to someone on the phone, or people dropping in, she will make them feel special.” Sister Marcella was the first Ursuline Sister to minister at St. John’s and, since she was still located in Lawrence, she got to see and meet some KU students who went to church at St. John’s. At the parish she proofread the bulletins and acted on Father John’s behalf if he couldn’t pray the rosary with a family before a funeral, or if something official needed to be signed. She loved the ministry and her co-workers. She was often joined in the office by the 2 dogs belonging to the music director at the parish. Maddie and Annie were always there beside her. She spoiled them and they became her own watchdogs. She earned the nickname “the shredder” for her skill at recycling the office paper, and her running of the office earned her the name “the general.” Fr. John said that for her, “retirement” was a taboo word. The staff wouldn’t let her retire. Fr. John said that if she retired all the staff was going to come with her. And the staff actually made several trips to Kentucky after she moved here in 2015.
When she came to Mount Saint Joseph, she never really retired. She worked in the Mission Advancement Office and at the switchboard. She made many jars of jam and jelly that were sold at the picnics and the quilt bingo.
She never really had any spare time during her life because she loved working crossword puzzles, playing bridge and travelling. She went to the Holy Land, Italy and France and travelled all over the United States.
Father Jerry Spencer once said, “Sister Marcella and I have shared a lot of good times and hard times together. She’s very dedicated. She enjoys being a member of the Ursuline community. She throws herself wholeheartedly into whatever she does. She has impacted and touched a lot of lives.”
Sister Marcella did touch many lives during her 95 years on this earth. Now she is celebrating her new life with God, Father Spencer and all her family and friends. She wanted us to celebrate this day. On one of her forms in planning this day she wrote, “God has been so good to me and blessed me with a wonderful family and many, many good friends, so make it a day of celebration and joy.”
So, Marcella, we celebrate your life. Thank you for living yours so well.