CLYDE – Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Jacqueline Marie Steinbrenner, OSB passed away on July 23, 2015, after 58 years of faithful service to the Lord.
Born on Dec. 20, 1937, at an orphanage sponsored by the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis, she was adopted two years later by Leo and Minnie Lusser Steinbrenner and joined an older adopted brother, Leo.
She credited her parents for establishing an early love for the Church through their involvement in the parish. “They had a sense of pride and obligation to be involved,” she said before her passing. “It prepared me to take responsibility in the larger setting of Church community. It was done with joy and unassumingly.”
She attended St. Anthony of Padua School and considered the parish a wonderful and wholesome influence on her life, and it served as the impetus for her first vocation as a Franciscan sister.
After high school in 1954, Jacqueline Marie entered the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ferguson, Missouri. She professed first vows on Aug. 12, 1957, as Sister Mary Leonise. She earned a bachelor of arts in education from Webster College and 30 hours of graduate credit in art education. Since 1901 her Franciscan Sisters had taught in several states, and in 15 years of service Sister Mary Leonise managed to teach in six: Illinois, California, Ohio, Louisiana, New Mexico and Missouri. Some of her fondest memories were teaching African American children in Monroe, Louisiana, in the 1960s. Along the way, she changed her religious name back to her baptismal name, Jacqueline Marie.
By the early 1970s she was hearing an inner call to go deeper into the contemplative life. She made a retreat at the Benedictine Sisters’ monastery in St. Louis and began a discernment process and novitiate.
“There was a real effort to balance a life of work and prayer, along with a balance of silence and solitude, with community. I finally understood why my heart was so restless – the spiritual side of myself was not being nourished,” she said.
She ultimately transferred her vows to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration on Sept. 8, 1974. Upon her Golden Jubilee celebration in 2007 she said, “I’m so very happy that I held onto the Franciscan tradition while moving into Benedictine life. I have experienced the best of two spiritualities.”
As a Benedictine Sister, Sister Jacqueline Marie’s talent and background for art was put to good use in the congregation’s printery design and layout department and for their magazine, Spirit & Life. She won a Catholic Press Award for her work in 1976.
She also worked in the altar bread departments at the congregation’s former monasteries in Mundelein, Illinois, and in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the early 1980s, she was the pastoral minister at St. Benedict Health Care Center, the Benedictine Sisters’ then-congregational infirmary in St. Louis. She took a course in gerontology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a course in sculpture. During the 1990s and early 2000s, she was stationed at various times at the Benedictine Sisters’ monasteries in Tucson, Arizona, and Clyde, Missouri. She also served as director of oblates for four years in Clyde.
Sister Jacqueline Marie learned the art of icon writing. During and after a time with the Benedictine Sisters at their San Benito monastery in Dayton, Wyoming, she wrote an icon of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha for the chapel. In Tucson she became friends with a woman in the Islamic mystical Sufi tradition and broadened her appreciation of how God is sought and perceived in non-Christian faith traditions.
After several years at Clyde assisting in the correspondence department and greeting guests, she transferred to Our Lady of Rickenbach Healthcare Center in 2013. She died on July 23, and her funeral was held on July 27 in the Benedictine Sisters’ Adoration Chapel in Clyde. She was buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Sister Jacqueline Marie – whose smile could light up a room – will be remembered for her faithfulness to Christ and as one to whom friendships mattered. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother. She is survived by extended family and her monastic Sisters. o