End of an Era: Sr. Francis Ellen Bowery

Aunt Frankie. Officially known as Sister Frances Ellen Bowery.

picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery (1920-2014)

Aunt Frankie touring the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA in July 2011 (age 90)

Dominican nun for 76 years. She was a teacher and a Social Justice advocate. Part of her work included working on peace issues and with immigrants and international students. Little however has been noted of her quiet work for justice.  Still, I honor her for this work and her dedication to humanity.

Picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit. Aunt Frankie took the name Sr. Mary Eucharia when she took on the habit. In the 1960’s, the convent rules loosened up and she, like many others, abandoned the habit and returned to her original name. One of the reasons she made these changes after almost 30 years in the convent was to be more accessible to the people she was working with. I believe it worked.

Humorist. She loved to make jokes. And she had a wonderful laugh. For example, she enjoyed teasing and joking. She also loved to play cards and particularly enjoyed getting caught cheating at the game.

Picture of Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her great-niece.

Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her seven-year-old great-niece. October 2011

Family overseer of the Bowery clan. Many of my mother’s clan turned to her. Just before my grandmother died in 1963, she asked Frankie to “look after” Marty, her second youngest remaining sister. Which she did until my mother died three years ago. Calls, visits, vacations… Any time. Anywhere. Frankie was there whenever she was needed or wanted. After my mother died, Aunt Frankie became the last survivor of her generation. At my mother’s funeral, she told me, “My [family] job is now done. I did what my mother asked me to do.” She sure did.

Picture of the Bowery Clan in West Palm Beach, FL.

The Bowery Clan:
Front row: Martha Bowery, Loretta Bowery Randolph, Edward Smith, Louise Bowery Smith, Tracy Smith, Bernice Savage Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Sr.
Back row: Sister Frances Ellen Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Jr, Bernice Helena Bowery, Sarah Bowery, Harold Randolph, and Sister John Loretto (ne Mary Tracy) Bowery. This picture was taken circa 1948.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery, always known to me as Aunt Frankie, died on Tuesday evening December 2, 2014 at the young age of 94. She will be buried Saturday, December 6, 2014 in her bright red “Mrs. Claus” outfit beside her sister Sister, Sr. John Loretto Bowery, who was known to us simply as Aunt Mary.

Aunt Frankie's headstone 67161856_130061114640

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery’s headstone, located next to her sister Sister John Loretto Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=67161856&PIpi=39910824 on March 20, 2011.

Picture of SR. John Loretto Bowery's headstone

Sr. John Loretto (aka Aunt Mary) Bowery’s headstone at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Cemetary in Adrian, MI. Each set of plots is created in a circle. After Aunt Mary died, the Adrian Dominican Sisters left the space adjacent to Sr. John Loretto for her biological as well as religious sister, Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13395413&PIpi=39910802 on March 20, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was lucid and still making jokes right up to the end. She will surely be missed by all of us nieces and nephews and within her religious community.

Luv ya Frankie! Farewell and rest in peace.

Addendum – Aunt Frankie’s Elves

Monday December 9, 2014: I just got back from the funeral in Adrian, MI. It was probably the nicest celebration of life I’ve ever attended.

Aunt Frankie was buried on December 6 on the Feast of St. Nicholas – her favorite holiday. She donned her Mrs. Claus suit and distributed candy canes to her community every year on this feast day; she was also buried in this outfit.

Picture of Aunt Frankie wearing her Mrs. Claus suit.

Aunt Frankie as Mrs. Claus at an annual Feast of St. Nicholas party at the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was buried in this outfit at her request.

In her honor and with the fun spirit she engendered in our family, all of the nieces and nephews attending the funeral donned Santa Claus hats and distributed candy canes to the members of the convent at the wake. We also gave out rawhide candy canes for the doggie members within the community (yes some of the nuns have dogs as pets).

Thanks again Aunt Frankie. The best funeral I’ve ever attended.

 

2 thoughts on “End of an Era: Sr. Francis Ellen Bowery

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your Aunt Frankie. I am so very sorry for your loss of this very special person. I have been privileged to know several “nuns” from Sister Frankie’s era and a bit younger who “rebelled” against some of the restrictions of the Catholic hierarchy and went out on their own to serve. They have made great contributions to social justice, especially to women’s equality. Thank you for reminding us of these special women like your Aunt Frankie. You were blessed to have had her in your family.

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  2. Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW and commented:
    This serves to remind us of the many wonderful contributions to social justice that have been made by a large number of “nuns” who several years ago started standing up to the hierarchy of the Church, got rid of their habits, and went out into the world to do “social justice”, especially as it effects women, and women’s equality. Thank you to all of them. They have served with great courage and accomplished a tremendous amount for which they rarely are acknowledged.

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