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Sr. Mary Irene Spraley


Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Mary Irene Spraley, 94, died Nov. 13 in Cincinnati.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, she recently celebrated her 75th year of religious life.

Sister Mary Irene began her 51-year career in education teaching first graders at St. Peter Canisius Parish School (1946-1950). She spent the rest of her teaching career in Ohio.

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Sr. Ann Marie Cwick


Holy Family of Nazareth Sister Ann Marie (Patricia Ann) Cwick, 64, died Nov. 21 in Chicago.

Born in Chicago and baptized at St. Adalbert Church, she entered religious life in 1973. She attended Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and St. Mary of Nazareth School of Nursing in Chicago and earned her registered nurse certificate in 1980. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from DePaul University in 1990 and a master’s in pastoral ministry from Catholic Theological Union in 2007.

She ministered for 34 years at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital (now AMITA Health Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center) as a medical-surgical and oncology nurse. She was the last Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth to minister at the hospital, which her congregation founded in 1894.

In her free time, Sister Ann Marie helped in parish ministry at St. Helen, St. Mark, St. Malachy and St. Ann.

In 2014, she began serving as the parish nurse at St. Cornelius, a ministry she continued until she became ill in the summer of 2019.

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Sr. Mary Lois Bartnicki


Mercy Sister Mary Lois (Leona) Bartnicki, 88, died Nov. 23.

Born in Milwaukee, she entered the Sisters of Mercy in Des Plaines at the age of 17.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Xavier University, and she taught from 1951 to 2001 in parochial elementary schools throughout the dioceses of Milwaukee and Madison in Wisconsin, and Chicago and Peoria in Illinois.

After retirement, she served as a substitute teacher for eight years.

In the summers, she taught religion classes. An athlete at heart, Sister Lois could often be found at church festivals giving lessons on how to play ring toss.

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Sr. Therese Windham


Mercy Sister Therese (Tarasia) Windham, 87, died Nov. 24 at Mercy Circle.

Sister Therese graduated from Mercy High School in Chicago in 1946 and worked as a sales clerk, typist and tutor before entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1952.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Saint Xavier University in 1957 and began teaching physics, chemistry, math and computer science, mostly in high schools and community colleges in Illinois and Wisconsin.

She earned master’s degrees in physics and computer science after starting her teaching career.

She also participated in the Bible study group at St. Linus Parish for five years.

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Fr. John Fincutter

Former rector

Divine Word Father John Fincutter, 96, died Nov. 27. He was the only Divine Word missionary to serve three consecutive terms as rector of the Techny community.

As rector, Father Fincutter oversaw the construction of the Divine Word Residence.

Born in Libertyville, Father Fincutter began his studies with the Divine Word Missionaries in 1938, professed vows in 1943 and was ordained to the priesthood at Techny in 1950.

Recognizing his academic abilities, his superiors sent him to England for his first assignment. While in Great Britain, he served as headmaster at St. Richard’s College in Hadzor. He also served two terms as provincial of the British Province.

After two decades in Great Britain, Father Fincutter returned to the United States. He was elected rector of the Techny Community in 1973 and held that position until 1982. In addition to overseeing the building of the present residence building, he championed the creation of a landfill that produced significant revenue that was used in the Chicago Province and in the foreign missions.

Father Fincutter later taught Scripture at the minor seminary in East Troy, Wisconsin. He also served as rector of the Divine Word community in East Troy. In semi-retirement, he acted as business manager for the Divine Word community at East Troy, taught Scripture to adults in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and authored the Arnold Janssen Scripture Study Course.

Father Fincutter moved to Techny in 2013. He is survived by his brother, Robert.

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Sr. Virginia Thoennes

Educator, pastoral associate

Sister of the Living Word Virginia Thoen-nes, 89, died Dec. 8 in Chicago.

Born in Chicago, Sister Virginia was a Sister of the Living Word for 44 years, and a Sister of Christian Charity before that. She taught in the Chicago area and was principal of St. Gregory High School from 1976 to 1981.

She served in leadership for her community, and later as pastoral associate at various parishes in the northern suburbs. She was very involved in Church Women United and other justice works at St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights. She lived the past eight years at Resurrection Life Center in Chicago.

She is survived by her siblings Martha Kastens and Richard Thoennes.

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Sr. Mary Christine Athans


BVM Sister Mary Christine (Christophil) Athans, 87, died Dec. 7 in Dubuque, Iowa.

Sister Mary Christine was born in Joliet, Illinois, and entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1955. She made final vows in 1963.

She was an adjunct professor at Loyola University Institute of Pastoral Studies and Catholic Theological Union, both in Chicago. She was assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign. She also taught at universities in Minnesota and California. She began her ministry by teaching high school and elementary school, including St. Eugene School.

Sister Mary Christine wrote extensively on Jewish-Christian relations, including her book “In Quest of the Jewish Mary: The Mother of Jesus in History, Theology and Spirituality.”

She served on more than 20 boards and committees, including the Chicago-Jewish Scholars Dialogue sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Board of Rabbis and the United Jewish Federation of Greater Chicago.

She is survived by siblings Catherine Athans and Cyril Athans.