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Scripture tells us "no one knows the day or hour" when God will call us home. We strive as human beings, to the best of our abilities, to live fully in the days that are ours. Sr. Grace Miriam received the unexpected news of her cancer diagnosis in late February of this year. She wasted not a minute in recognizing the reality of her health challenge. Over a few precious months, she managed to warmly welcome all who knew her into a farewell embrace that included visits, phone calls, texted messages, paintings, flowers and lengthy conversations. She managed to freely speak of Sister Death, not with a sense of fear but rather anticipation of fulfillment and the hope of being with those she had loved in this life.

Patricia Agnes Pleiman was born on April 9, 1938, as the seventh child of Edward and Margaret (Schafer) Pleiman. She was raised and grew up on the family farm in Osgood, Ohio and later on their dairy farm in Casella, Ohio. She was raised in a home where faith was something tangible. Everywhere she looked, Patricia saw signs of faith, in her parents and siblings, in the wonders of nature and in the small and large happenings of her young life.
From a young age, Patricia displayed a sense of being her own person. She was determined and at times driven. She was quite self-intended and directed. These characteristics played out through her lifetime and made her a risk-taker for God, self and others.

As a teenager, Patricia came to St. Clare's Convent for a visit and thereafter decided to enter the Aspirancy High School at the ripe age of 14. She identified those years as bringing her both contentment and happiness.
In 1956, Patricia entered the Novitiate and received the name Sr. Grace Miriam which she kept throughout her life. She made First Profession on August 25, 1959 and five years to the day later in 1964, made Perpetual Profession.
From the earliest years, Sr. Grace (as she was fondly called) was destined to become a nurse. She received her initial nursing education at St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in Dayton and in 1964 obtained a Bachelor in Science in Nursing through the University of Dayton, Ohio. Her early nursing years were spent in hospital settings in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.
The Second Vatican Council had a tremendous spiritual impact on the Church, religious life and on the personal life of Sr. Grace. She was deeply touched by the challenge of the Council to
read the "signs of the times" and return to the founding spirit. These factors played out directly upon the life of Sr. Grace; as she eventually became a member of an experimental small intentional community called Hope Community in Cincinnati. The sisters resided in a local neighborhood and handled all their day to day needs; quite a difference from convent life at the time. At the same interval, Sr. Grace exchanged nursing for pastoral care and began praying with hospitalized patients which she found life giving.
With these life experiences under her wings, Sr. Grace discerned to accept an invitation to relocate to New York and become a core member of a similar intentional community called Burning Bush. Little did she know at the time, that the invitation to reside in New York would extend itself over thirty years.
Over her years in New York, Sr. Grace undertook a variety of ministries, all with hands-on direct service including: housing of homeless women (Dwelling Place), psychiatric nursing (St. Vincent Hospital), shelter for youth (Covenant House), detox services (Bowery) and eventually the founding Director for Inniss Franciscan House, a transitional housing setting for men with addictions.
While in New York, Sr. Grace extended her education at New York Theological and obtained a Masters in Art in 1981 in Religion and Psychology.
In addition to her outreach ministerial services, Sr. Grace always had the time and energy to meet the needs of her family and loved ones in a personal caring way, vesting both herself and her loving care.
In 2007, Sr. Grace returned to Ohio and took up residence and ministry at Grace Place in Cincinnati which was a Catholic Worker House devoted to the care of women in transition.
In 2010, Sr. Grace was asked by Leadership to consider a new ministry focused on providing welcoming hospitality to women on the streets who live with addiction. This ministry was named Tamar's Place and is situated in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Over the years, the ministry has witnessed women recover from their lifestyle choices through the acceptance and love of Sr. Grace. Frequently, you would hear Sr. Grace refer to the clients as "my girls".
She not only believed in the goodness of each woman, she managed to love each one into fuller life.
Within the months of her last illness, she managed to celebrate her 60th Jubilee with joy and delight surrounded by Sisters, family and friends.

So dear Sr. Grace, you have indeed been a very faithful servant to many persons over your incredible lifetime. You have touched many lives and as many souls. May you now know and experience the fullness of God's promise of life for all eternity.
Thank you for your witness to us of what living and dying well looks like in this life. Go forth in peace and with our love.

Written by: Sr. Marilyn Trowbridge
August 5, 2016

Sr. Grace Miriam A Different Drummer

How rare the soul who understands and marches to a beat A little odd, unusual but in the end, so sweet.
Her life took chances, righted wrongs, she saw the hidden good Within so many others hearts and loved them where they stood. Her strength, her joy, that different drum reached out and touched us all – What miracles are possible when we answer Jesus’ call.

Beverly Kaye © 2016

Published: September, 14 2016