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In the midst of an unexpected diagnosis of cancer in the late fall of 2015, Sr. Arleen appeared to want to fight for every moment of life. She was brave enough to undertake two complete rounds of treatment, continually remaining optimist. She had hoped and prayed for a miracle from the hands of our foundress, Blessed Frances Schervier. However, God won the battle for her life, here on earth and unto the heavens.

Mary Arleen Bourquin was born on December 9, 1938, the first child of Arlus and Emmajane (Schmitt) Bourquin. Along with her two younger brothers, Bill and Tom, all were raised in Dayton, Ohio as members of St. Anthony Parish.
Being the eldest child and only girl in the family, Arleen from an early age displayed a clear sense of being self-directed. Frequently she managed to arrive at ideas, concepts or make suggestions that were unique and creative. These traits she carried throughout her life.
Directly after high school, Arleen decided to pursue a career in nursing. Her initial nursing education was completed in 1959 at St. Vincent School of Nursing in Toledo, Ohio.

After a few years as a nurse at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Dayton, Arleen gave thought to a possible religious call. She discerned to enter the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor on September 8, 1962. She often recalled that her early formation was a challenge for her since she was a, " older" candidate of 24 years. Following her call, Arleen made First Profession on August 25, 1965, receiving the name Sr. Laura Marie. Later she returned to her baptismal name of Sr. Mary Arleen. Four years later, on September 28, 1969, Sr. Mary Arleen made Perpetual Profession.
Her time in formation coincided with the impact of the Second Vatican Council, a time of Church renewal. In those early years after the Council, there were many changes related to the laity, women, ecumenism and religious life. The fresh new air of the Council spoke to Sr. Arleen on a deep level. One aspect Sr. Arleen took on related to the Council, was to become an avid reader who was theologically astute and who kept abreast of the most current happenings throughout her lifetime.
Once Perpetually Professed, Sr. Arleen had the opportunity to gain nursing experience in several Congregational sponsored hospital settings in Dayton, Columbus and Kansas City.
In 1971, she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati. Wanting to eventually teach nursing, Sr. Arleen obtained her Masters of Science in Nursing in
1973 from the University of Michigan.
She accepted a teaching position on the faculty of Raymond Walters College in Cincinnati where she passed on her nursing skills to the next generation for some nine years.
Sr. Arleen had the rare opportunity to spend a year in the Italian Area of the Congregation. She always held many memories of that particular time which she shared with family and friends.
In the middle of the 1980's, Sr. Arleen's ministry interests shifted from nursing to spirituality. She was given permission to pursue an additional Masters in Christian Spirituality from Mundelein College in Chicago in 1986.
Sr. Arleen placed her new learnings to further use at Friarhurst Retreat Center and Pinecroft House of Peace in Cincinnati, as well as the Passionists Retreat House in Jamaica Estates, New York. In more recent years, she offered a course in Spiritual Direction through the University of Dayton at Bergamo Center. She was recruited by Fr. Tom Speier, ofm to teach a course on Franciscan Spiritual Direction in Ethiopia and always had many tales to share of that particular international experience. She also served the Secular Fraternity in Dayton as their Spiritual Director for a number of years.
Additional ministry undertakings included Sr. Arleen's service in writing the Congregational Annals and the obituaries in the US Area, her ministry with Women Helping Women, an outreach effort for abused women and her court appointed child guardianships in the Dayton area.
Besides these several efforts, Sr. Arleen was very devoted to several ministerial activities over many years within her community of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Centerville, Ohio. These ministries included: catechesis of the young, refugee resettlement, being a member of the choir and avenues related to creating liturgical expression. She always spoke with delight about her 50th Jubilee celebration in the parish setting in 2012.

Sr. Arleen had many gifts with an artistic flair, including sewing, design, bead work and mandalas. She treasured the companionship of animals. She enjoyed dream work, reading and conversation on women’s topics.
Sr. Arleen, you colored the world with your presence and gifts. You have added your touch in brightening the lives of others along the way. May our good and gracious God for whom you freely gave your life, now reward you for all eternity in fullest measure. Go with God and be at peace.

Sr. Marilyn Trowbridge sfp

June 29, 2016

The following are some testimonials from our Sisters who remember Sister Mary Arleen Bourquin with great affection:

I had the joy of meeting Sr. Mary Arleen Bourquin in April when I was to Cincinnati.
She was very happy to see me and she told me about her health situation, she was glad that chemotherapy was having some positive effect and therefore she was able to join the feast for the Jubilee of Sr. Grace Miriam and Sr. Marie Martin. We also took a few pictures together and I her smile remains in my heart.

Sr Paola Zaccaria sfp

In August 2011 Sr. M. Arleen wrote me a letter, which she had translated into Italian by Sr. Marie Clement. In the letter she expressed her appreciation for the iconography course we had started in Senegal and she shared her spiritual experience lived through art and beauty.
A few months later she sent me, in Senegal, trough Sr. Tiziana Merletti, a wonderful book about the mandala and a box of colored pencils.

So we begun a correspondence that made me discover her great sensitivity and generosity.
In the short period I spent in Pinecroft in the autumn of 2012, sr M.Arleen took me to Dayton to visit her parish and some places, which were significant for the history of our Congregation. She also gave a lesson of Zentangle, which was a discovery for me! It was a very special day, and I experienced this sister’s love and care.

I remember sr M.Arleen as a woman of great spiritual depth, in love with the beauty and able to smile to Life.

Sr Marvi sfp

 

Published: August, 16, 2016