Sister Lorraine Mark, CSJ
Entered this life ~ March 9, 1935
Entered the Founding Congregation of LaGrange August 15, 1955
Entered Eternal Life ~ December 1, 2017
Lawrence and Eileen Mark had two children. Kenneth was their first child and Lorraine, who was born in Berwyn, IL, on March 9, 1935, their second. The family moved to Downers Grove, IL where both Kenneth and Lorraine attended St. Joseph Parish School. Lorraine was the life of the party as she moved through grammar school and on to Nazareth Academy. Their home was the scene of many parties with Lorraine the perfect hostess.
Upon graduating from Nazareth, Lorraine decided to go to the College of St. Theresa in Winona, MN, even though there were five young men seeking to marry her. After one year of college she surprised everyone especially her suitors, by entering the Sisters of St. Joseph in LaGrange Park in September of 1954.
She received the habit and the name Sr. Mary Kateri in August of 1955. She earned a B.A. from Rosary College with her major field being English. She went on to be awarded a M.A. from Loyola also in English. These degrees were put to good use in her early years as she taught English at Nazareth Academy and St. Paul High School. Her wonderful sense of humor and her warm and welcoming personality helped make her an outstanding teacher. But she was being called in another direction and the community had her work with the Formation Team and to match these duties there were courses and training in pastoral education and spirituality.
But there was still another calling which began to take shape after her six months sabbatical alone in the mountains of Colorado where she “experienced the profound importance of solitude.” This quote and the passages that follow are from Sr. Lorraine’s own brief history of Christ in the Wilderness, which is the name of the place she established “to nurture an environment that is conducive for silence, solitude, prayer and reflection. It is hoped that retreatants will experience movement toward a deepened awareness of self, creation and the Holy.” The name of Christ in the Wilderness was suggested to Lorraine by a Jewish man with whom she shared the story of her dream.
In 1980, the down payment was made on the 80 acres in the Stockton area which now make up Christ in the Wilderness. Through determination, dedication and hard work, Sr. Lorraine went about raising funds, overseeing the construction and working the land to help make the dream come true.
In 1983, quoting Sr. Lorraine “Mariglen, our first hermitage, was built due to a grant from the Raskob Foundation and other donations. . . . In the years that followed two more hermitages were added and a chapel built.
“. . . After 16 years of this, even rough and tough workers who drive in here feel the difference on these 80 acres. The land has been seasoned and blessed over the years by all who spend time here and it is palpable. Alleluia!”
During her years at Christ in the Wilderness, she cared for her mother who came to live with her in this sacred place. There was another companion for both of them—the beautiful, well-behaved dog named Blue. Later after Blue’s death, Lorraine got a second dog, named Mariah, really a treasured friend for Lorraine.
However, once again Lorraine’s life drastically changed. Lorraine ended up leaving Christ in the Wilderness for others to maintain as she continued to deal with the stroke that she suffered in the year 2000. She became a resident of Resurrection Life Center where she faced many physical challenges and found new ministries—that of welcoming our sisters and helping them adjust to the Center and to keeping the residence of Resurrection laughing with her many well-repeated jokes. “Did you hear the joke of the cat and mice?” she was often heard asking “or the woman with the four husbands?”
Humor and warmth, shared with others from those early days in Downers Grove, through her teaching days, formation years, Christ in the Wilderness adventures and Resurrection Life Center and finally to joining St. Kateri, her mom and dad, her brother Kenneth, five suitors, hundreds of students, benefactors and friends as she organizes God’s parties. We see her with a smile on her face and a joke about to be told and all heaven breaking into laughter.