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After a lifetime of faithfully responding to her desire “to love God and serve as God wills” (words written when she was 23 years old), Sister Mary Virginia slipped into God’s loving embrace in the morning hours of November 1, 2017, All Saints Day.

Mary Jane was born on August 22, 1930 in Connersville, Indiana, to Lewis James and Marie Bertha Schreiner. She and her two younger siblings, Betty (Elizabeth) and James, were raised in Brookville, Indiana. Although her mother became ill while Mary Jane was still a young child, her father continued to care for the children and maintained a close relationship with them. Sr. Mary Virginia often spoke of the long walks she would take with her father, hunting for mushrooms, and it was then that she developed her love for nature. Family re-mained important to her, and when her brother and sister married, she was very close to her nieces and nephews .

In 1953, Mary Jane entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, making her First Profession in May 3, 1956 and her Perpetual Profession on August 25, 1961. Sr. Mary Virginia received her B.A. in English from Our Lady of Cincinnati College in 1961 and taught in our Aspirancy High School while preparing for her MA in Education in 1966. Ever open to God’s will, in October of that year, she left by ship for our Congregation’s Generalate in Frascati, Italy to assist with preparations for the upcoming General Chapter in 1968. At that historic gathering, it was decided to move the Generalate to New York. Having been elected Congregational Secretary, she assisted the new General Council with moving into the home/office at 23 Middagh Street, Brooklyn. Maintaining her deep love of nature in midst of large city living, Mary Virginia found a lot of joy walking the Promenade, a nearby waterfront park extending several blocks and overlooking the East River and the New York skyline.

Sr. Mary Virginia’s life in ministry seems to have moved in ever expanding circles that grew wider and deeper with each revolution. She returned to Cincinnati in 1972 to be a part of the new Resurrection House of Prayer, where she remained until 1981. She moved back to NY, this time to serve as the Community Minister to the Sisters at Mt. Alverno Convent in the beautiful countryside of Warwick, NY for 10 years. Afterwards, returning home to Cincinnati, she served as Activities Assistant in the Alzheimer’s Unit at Schroder Manor, Hamilton Ohio.

In 1995, Sr. Mary Virginia was overjoyed to be one of nineteen sisters chosen to attend the Pentecost celebration of the 150th anniversary of our founding in Aachen, Germany, and a “heart-expanding” pilgrimage with other Sisters to Lourdes, France. Further renewed, enlivened and nourished by a sabbatical at Tau Center, Winona, MN from January 20 to April 13, 1998, Sr. Mary Virginia set goals for herself that guided the rest of her life.
June, 1998 found her living again at Pinecroft House of Peace (as Resurrection House of Prayer was now called). During this time, she also began assisting Sr. Josetta Marie, who was Nurse Coordinator

 
After a lifetime of faithfully responding to her desire “to love God and serve as God wills” (words written when she was 23 years old), Sister Mary Virginia slipped into God’s loving embrace in the morning hours of November 1, 2017, All Saints Day.
Mary Jane was born on August 22, 1930 in Connersville, Indiana, to Lewis James and Marie Bertha Schreiner. She and her two younger siblings, Betty (Elizabeth) and James, were raised in Brookville, Indiana. Although her mother became ill while Mary Jane was still a young child, her father continued to care for the children and maintained a close relationship with them. Sr. Mary Virginia often spoke of the long walks she would take with her

for our senior Sisters at the Franciscan Terrace, and continued to do so after moving to Sr. Clare Con-vent in 2003.
Caring for the senior Sisters continued to be her call, and Ginny (as she was affectionately called by those who knew her well) delighted in doing so, as well as tending the beautiful gardens and grounds of St. Clare campus. In her own words, written when she celebrated her 80 birthday, we find the source of her gentle, loving devotion of these years: “Since I am the oldest in our family, I have never experienced an older sister, nor could I help my mother in need. Now I can do small favors for many Sisters (including one old enough to be my mother), and find joy and satisfaction in such service. Most of the 22 members of our St. Clare Community here are now ‘retired’ Sisters, but one never re-tires from gladly “loving and serving “God and family. It’s a wonderful life!”
Sr. Mary Virginia’s activity was curtailed by a fall that left her with a fractured hip. Ever open to em-brace God’s will for her, she now willingly accepted the limitations she experienced. Little by little, her life force ebbed, until she gently fell asleep and woke in God’s arms, reunited with her mother, father and brother once again.

Written by Sr. JoAnn Jackowski, sfp

A Holy Fire

By Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner, April, 1997

A holy Fire was kindled
within her faith-filled heart:
in Frances, God’s love made its home
and showed us Wisdom’s art.
This child’s eyes saw the poor in need
and, simply, gave with love.
With hungry heart, she sought God’s will,
direction from above.
Come, Frances! “Heal these wounds of Mine.”
Be faithful to your call.
Though active works of charity,
be Love to one and all.
Responding through life’s clouds of doubt,
she followed Jesus’ way:
said “Yes!” to loving service
to poor ones of her day.
Blessed Frances, help us kindle
Christ’s Fire cast on the earth;
may generous, listening hearts
Continue Love’s rebirth.

The following are some testimonials from our Sisters who remember with affection Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner:

I had the grace to meet Sr. Mary Virginia during my journey to Cincinnati, last years and this one, in April.
I was very impressed by her because she was so attentive to support another Sister who had big problems due to an illness: she was always beside her, when she went to the Church or they went to have lunch. She was always taking care of her. She always picked up flowers for the Sisters who live at the Magnificat because she said she did not want the Sisters missed the joy and the colours of the Creation.
When I met her in April I realised she was suffering a lot, but her love always won over the pain.

Sr. Paola Zaccaria

Sr. Mary Virginia, witness of docility. I spent three months in Us, from April to July 2017. I met Sr. Mary Virginia every morning for breakfast, especially in the first weeks when I was suffering the jet-lag effect. She told me many facts of her life and also her journey in Italy. I will bring in my heart for ever the moment in which she needed to be transfered to the third floor, in the infirmary, so she could be better assisted. She was a witness of docility in accepting the willing of God to have more assistance and help. I never saw acridity or opposition, although the new situation made her suffering.

Sr. Francesca Vitulano

I had the joy of sharing life with Sister Mary Virginia during the time I studied in Rome. When school was out in summertime, I lived in Frascati and she was there teaching the young ers. She typed my thesis for Regina Mundi. She was always gracious, kind and generous with her secretarial talents. I lived with her too in Brooklyn when she was the Secretary for the Congregation.  I also had the privilege to live with her here in Magnificat Community since the end of January, 3 2017 until November 1.  I was with her when she died.  The day before she died we had a brief conversation.  She opened her eyes, took my hand in both of her hands, smiled a beatific smile at me and fell back to sleep.​ I will treasure her memory.

Sr. Bernadette Sullivan

Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner (Ginny) was a true environmentalist! She delighted in keeping the convent grounds picked up of fallen tree branches and other trash that might have blown in. Her attention to Sr. Rose Carmel was inspiring. Each morning when Sr. Rose came to the chapel Ginny would check that the collar on her blouse was neatly in place and then guide her to her seat in chapel.  Little things in life were a real joy and blessing for Ginny.

Sr. Karen Hartman

Like clockwork when my birthday would be in sight I could always count on a warm greeting from Sister Mary Virginia to appear in my mailbox.  For years her kind generosity show itself with this little gesture of caring on her part. It was appreciated on the receiving end.

Sr. Betty Igo

I am grateful to have spent some time with Sr. Mary Virginia when I was in Cincinnati. She and Sr. Daniel Marie were very happy I was there because I can speak English and they could tell their stories to me and they memories. Sr. Mary Virginia recalled to me the time we spent together in Vermicino, in Italy, where we made a step of our religious path. May God give them joy and consolation, may they meet Mother Frances in Heaven.

Sr. Maria Atorino

 Published: December 20, 2017