Sister Sally Lessnau remembered as ‘living example of Christ’ (Tennessee Register)

Posted 11/21/2014

By Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register

Sister Sally Lessnau, a Daughter of Charity who taught at St. Vincent de Paul School and served as a case manager at the Catholic Charities' North Nashville Outreach Office, died at the Seton Residence in Evansville, Ind., on Nov. 12 at age 71.

During the eight years she worked at Catholic Charities, from 2004 to 2012, "she really changed the community in North Nashville," according to Megan Stack, director of Catholic Charities' Family Assistance and Community Employment, of which the North Nashville Outreach is a part.

"She was honestly the living example of Christ," said Stack, who traveled to Evansville on Nov. 18 to attend Sister Sally's funeral, as did several representatives from Saint Thomas Health Services. "She never met a stranger," Stack said, and always had time to listen and pray with clients or fellow employees.

Even two years after Sister Sally left Nashville for what would be her final assignment, working in social services in East St. Louis, Ill., former clients here still ask about her on a daily basis, Stack said. "She gave everything she had to serve the poor or anyone in need," Stack said. "She was a beautiful person."

Born on Nov. 17, 1942, in Detroit, Sister Sally was one of six children born to Raymond and Elizabeth (Doetsch) Lessnau. She graduated from St. Anthony High School in Detroit in 1960 and entered the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Md., in August of 1961. Reflecting on her life and ministry on the occasion of her golden jubilee in 2011, Sister Sally told the Tennessee Register that she was drawn to the Daughters after reading about how they carried pots of soup through the streets of Paris to feed the poor. "That's the kind of sister I want to be," she decided, and entered the community as a postulant just after graduating from high school.

She went on to earn her bachelor's degree in education from St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Md., in 1964, and later completed her master's degree in humanities at the University of Evansville.

Sister Sally's first assignment as a Daughter of Charity was to teach elementary school at St. Christine's School in Youngstown, Ohio, from 1964 to 1976, followed by another teaching assignment at St. Thomas School in Long Beach, Miss. from 1976 to 1980. She then served as director of religious education at St. Mary's Parish in Huntingburg, Ind., from 1980 to 1989 and was the Daughters' local superior there from 1983 to 1989. After that Sister Sally taught at St. Theresa Parish in Gulfport, Miss., from 1989 to 1992, then worked for Catholic Social Services in Walls, Miss., until 1998, before coming to Nashville to teach at St. Vincent.

At the time of her golden jubilee, Sister Sally said when she first joined the order she wanted to work with the poor, not be a teacher. "What happened? I've spent half my life as a teacher," she said. But she always found a way to work with the poor, through seeking out ministries with prisoners, inner city youth, and migrant workers, among others. All in all, she declared her varied assignments and 50 years as a Daughter of Charity "an exciting adventure."

A funeral Mass for Sister Sally was celebrated on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Seton Residence Chapel in Evansville, Ind.; burial followed at St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville.

Sister Sally was preceded in death by her brother, Mark (Pat) Lessnau; She is survived by her brothers Robert (Carol) of Southgate, Mich., and Kenneth (Mary Jane) of Howell, Mich.; her sisters Mary (Steve) Hudson of Fowlerville, Mich., and Shirley Lessnau of Fowlerville, Mich.; many nieces and nephews; her Sisters in Community; and many friends.

Donations in Sister Sally's memory may be made to the Daughters of Charity, 4330 Olive St., St. Louis, Mo., 63108.

Andy Telli contributed to this report.

SOURCE: (Page 17)

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