Sister Mary Elizabeth Krampe, OSU: June 21, 1918- January 14, 2019

Remembrance of Sister Mary Elizabeth Krampe, OSU

January 17, 2019

Sister Amelia Stenger, OSU

Congregational Leader

 St. Francis of Assisi left us many wonderful sayings and one of them describes our Sister Mary Elizabeth very well. He says, “Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received—only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”

Mary Elizabeth Krampe was born on June 21, 1918 in Owensboro, KY. She was the youngest of twelve children of Joseph John Krampe and Elizabeth Scholastica Bickwermet Krampe. Her brothers and sisters were Joseph, Veronica, William, Leo, Paul, Louis, Frank who died in infancy, a baby sister who died at birth, Sister Mary Aurea, a Benedictine of Ferdinand, IN, August, and another Frank.

She was baptized on June 23, 1918 at St. Martin’s Church in Rome, Ky. She was confirmed on May 5, 1926 by Archbishop John Floersh. Fr. Joseph Saffer was her pastor during her years in St. Martin’s parish. During her first several years of schooling at St. Martin’s, she and two brothers went to school in a horse drawn buggy. Later the family moved to a farm about two miles from the church and school, so they were able to walk to school. She completed her eighth-grade work in 1932.

During the years between grade school and entering the Ursuline sisters of Belleville, Mary Elizabeth stayed at home helping with the housework and caring for her parents as they aged. She had one older sister who married and one older sister who became a Benedictine, Sister Mary Aurea. After the death of her parents she began to fulfill her dream of serving God as a sister.

We don’t know exactly what year she entered the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese in Oklahoma City, but she stayed through her postulant year before she left. She said that the reason for her leaving was that she was not happy there. She contacted the Ursuline Sisters of Belleville where she was welcomed on December 19, 1957 at the age of 39. Mary Elizabeth became a novice in 1958 and made temporary vows on August 22, 1960. She made final vows along with Sister Catherine Kaufman on August 22, 1963. Sister Catherine, you have been a great friend of Sister Mary Elizabeth over the years. You have our appreciation and prayers for the loss of your sister.

During those years in the novitiate she attended classes to receive her high school diploma which she received on May 27, 1963 from Notre Dame Academy. She began attending Fontbonne College in St. Louis to study clothing construction and took more classes at Maryville college and Belleville Area College.

Most of her ministry was at the motherhouse in Belleville from 1968 to 1999 where she sewed, made afghans and quilts. She also drove the Sisters to appointments. It was said that she was the only person in Belleville who knew every doctor and every street in the area. She had flower gardens and was involved in almost every ministry at the Motherhouse. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and could lead the Litany of the Sacred Heart from memory.

In 1999 she came to Mount Saint Joseph for a sabbatical for several months. She returned to community service at the Belleville motherhouse until she moved to Mount Saint Joseph to retire in 2004 when the communities merged.

Sister Mary Elizabeth was not trained as a teacher, but she taught many things to people as she worked at the Motherhouse. She taught by her kindnesses to others. Sister Mary Ellen Backes sent a few thoughts that explained her life of giving. She said, “Sister Mary Elizabeth was a gentle, kind, compassionate person. She lived her life for others. It wasn’t always a simple thing to reach into her world. She was usually without words, but her inner life was rich with stories of her loving family, and her friends, and I could reach into her friendship by being present to her. I have a lovely delicate tin angel that I received from Mary Elizabeth, right after she moved into the community at the Mount. The delicately painted angel stands with a little bird house, a home for a beautiful blue bird that is perched on the angel’s arm, looking up into the angel’s eyes. That, to me, was Mary Elizabeth. She had a very rich inner life that she shared with others that included all the free and beautiful images of who she was, who she wanted to be, and why she remained so faithful to her calling of service to others in response to God’s gift of personal relationship with her.”

There was not very much information in her files about her years in the community. In 2008-09 on her archives form she talked about a trip she took to North Dakota to be with a Sister Gertrude who had cancer. She said that Sister Gertrude was an accomplished artist. While Sister Mary Elizabeth was there Sister Gertrude taught her how to do oil painting. She said, “I have two of my ‘masterpieces’ in my room.” The paintings are with the pictures on the display table in the back.

It was wintertime when she was there, and she remembered how the neighbor children would come to skate on the pond beyond the convent.

The only other thing that she mentioned was that her family came to visit her often. All her brothers and sisters were dead, but she talked about her nephews and nieces who would come to visit her on Sundays. She was always happy to see her cousin, Sister Julia. When she was in the hospital and Sister Julia walked in her face lit up immediately. We offer our sympathy and prayers to all of you who have come to pray for your Cousin, Aunt, great Aunt and all the many greats beyond that.

Sister entered the Belleville Ursulines without any other classmates, but when she came to the Mount, she became a part of the group who entered in 1958. This class includes Sister Vivian Marie Bowels, Sister Ann Patrice Cecil and Sister Rose Karen Johnson. We offer you our sympathy and prayers.

Sister Mary Elizabeth’s ministry was that of hospitality and community service to her religious Sisters. We thank you, Sister, for your example of St. Angela’s caring hospitality which you extended to so many over your sixty-one years of religious life. You really were a person who lived out what St. Francis said about living with “a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”

Sister asked that we not have anyone add anything to this remembrance. She was a woman of few words and she didn’t want too many words spoken about her. We encourage you to share with each other some of the stories about Sister after the conclusion of the prayer service.

Thank you for coming to pray with us this evening.


  1. Mary

    God bless, Sr. Mary Elizabeth. I knew her as a quiet dedicated worker for the Belleville Ursulines. She was a model of true service and love of God.

  2. Sabina Tighe Streng

    “God love her”, as my mother would often say.’Sr. Mary Elizabeth was a humble servant; always helping others without any fanfare. Her body will lie to rest on the hill at Maplemount, but I know her soul soared straight to her place in heaven. God rest her soul.

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