Aileen Maria Stapleton entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on February 2, 1936 and at Reception she received the name Sister Maria Frederick.
Her early ministry was in elementary education but she soon became a teacher of English at the secondary school level and then a principal at St. Angela Hall Academy, Fontbonne Hall Academy and The Academy of St. Joseph.
Maria earned a BA in history at St. John’s University, an MA in English at St. John’s University and an MA in Secondary Education at the Catholic University of America.
Maria was a woman of dignity, integrity, grace and compassion. Her soft-spoken wisdom and graciousness came from a deep place within her being. Maria, led by the Spirit, saw all as children of God and living for ninety seven years had a sense that there was a time for every purpose under heaven and she faithfully responded to where God called her to be.
Her way of living her life attuned to God speaking to her heart resonated with a vision statement formulated by our congregation. It refers to how we, as women religious, must respond to the needs of our world in this time in history. It is current and relevant, flowing from the purpose of our foundation, to bring all into union with God and with the dear neighbor without exception.
Responsive to the movements of the Spirit, we are to give full expression to our giftedness as women in the Church and Maria selflessly shared her many gifts in her ministry of education as teacher, administrator and mentor. She knew that each person was lovable in God’s eyes and had unique gifts and talents to be developed for the sake of our world. Recognizing each person’s dignity and potential she challenged and encouraged each one with compassion, consistency and persistence. As a woman deeply committed to family, congregation and to the Church Maria lived her life faithful to our congregation’s vision simply, courageously and compassionately.
The gospel chosen for this liturgy proclaims the beatitudes and we can recognize how Maria lived according to the gospel tending to the meek, the hungry, the sorrowful and the suffering with her gracious and faithful attentiveness. As model and mentor for many, we now are called to live as she did throughout her life and through the final days of her longing to be with the one whose vision guided her life. We celebrate Maria’s life and we express our admiration and gratitude. We can all rejoice and be glad with her knowing that truly her reward is great as she is embraced by her loving God for all eternity.
Sister Maria Frederick Stapleton, CSJ died on November 7, 2013 in the 77th year of her religious life.