Sister Marie Julie Fecher, 98, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died Sept. 22, 2022, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 80th year of religious life. She was a native of Hamilton, Ohio.
She graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Maple Mount, Ky., in 1940. In 2004, the Mount Alumnae Association selected her with the Maple Leaf Award, its highest honor. She earned both a bachelor’s degree in music (1959) and a master’s degree in music (1964) from DePaul University in Chicago.
She was a music instructor for 50 years in Kentucky and loved to share her talents with others. Always with a smile on her face, Sister Marie Julie encouraged countless students to love music and use it as a tool to serve God.
She taught music for 32 years in elementary schools at St. Edward (1944-52), St. Bartholomew (1964-68), and St. Columba (1968-76) all in Louisville; at St. Catherine in New Haven (1952-54, 1959-64), St. Francis in Marion County (1954-55), and St. Joseph, Leitchfield (1955-58). She then taught at Brescia College/University from 1976-1994. From 1994-2013, she was the organist for the Ursuline community.
Survivors include the members of her religious community; siblings Roger Fecher of Indianapolis, Ind., and Julie Zink, of Kettering, Ohio; nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Constantine and Marie Fecher; and siblings Mark Patrick Fecher and Con J. Fecher Jr.
The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Mount Saint Joseph, where visitation will begin Monday at 4 p.m., with a wake service following at 6:30 p.m.
Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is handling arrangements.
Donations in memory of Sister Marie Julie may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.
Wake Reflection: Sister Marie Julie Fecher, OSU
By Sister Sharon Sullivan, congregational leader, Sept. 26, 2022
Early in the morning, Thursday, September 22, 2022, Sister Marie Julie was called home by her loving God – having certainly scored the highest marks possible on what she once called “her final exam.”
We, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, extend our love and sympathy to all those to whom Sister Marie Julie was so dear – her family – her beloved sister Julie, her brother Roger, nieces and nephews; her friends and music lovers; the Villa staff; and all her Ursuline family – for she was the last in her class. In fact we share our love, sympathy and prayers with all who benefitted from what Sister Marie Julie once wrote: “I like to think my mission is to bring joy and happiness to people.”
Born Mary Margaret Fecher on October 13, 1923, our Sister Marie Julie has requested that we have no “Speaking in Remembrance” at this time, but that we share a poem that had great meaning for her.
We will honor this request, but will take a moment, if you will, to place the poem in the context of Sister Marie Julie’s life and the life of its author. Sister Marie Julie believed that the poem had no known author; this was the commonly held belief for many years. But something very reminiscent of Sister Marie Julie herself happened that brought the author and her story to life.
As befits a poem special to Sister Marie Julie, this poem was set to music and became a lovely choral piece – composed by Eleanor Daley and known as “In Remembrance” – a well-loved component of her most highly-regarded work – Requiem.
Daley wrote that she had discovered the poem while shopping, had copied the poem, and tucked it in her purse – forgotten for years. She only discovered it again when composing Requiem and seeking some inspiration. She remembered how meaningful the poem had seemed to her, so – thinking the work was from an unknown author – she set the whole poem to music and published the work, hearing it performed several times.
Three years later, she discovered that the poem’s author had been found. Daley immediately contacted the author – Mary Elizabeth Frye – and heard firsthand the tale of the poem’s origin. This tale sounds tailor-made for Sister Marie Julie who once wrote this simple reflection of her life’s purpose: “You have to make people feel worthwhile.”
In the 1930’s, Mary Elizabeth Frye and her husband gave sanctuary to Margaret, a young Jewish woman – a refugee fleeing the growing holocaust in Germany. But Margaret soon learned that her mother had died in Germany; heart-broken, Margaret wept to Mary Elizabeth, “I never had the chance to stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear.” Mary Elizabeth then composed her poem as a consolation for Margaret.
Sister Marie Julie wrote, “My primary goal has always been to bring the mystery and beauty of God into the art of music. . . .” So it is appropriate that we share now with you this poem that spoke so clearly to her.
As you prepare to listen to Mary Elizabeth Frye’s “In Remembrance,” I ask only that you take a few moments to bring to your heart or mind a memory of Sister Marie Julie that is special to you. Perhaps in these next days we might share these memories among ourselves, but for now let us hold them in our hearts as we listen to these words Sister Marie Julie wished to share:
Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow:
I am the diamonds’ glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain:
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there; I did not die.