Sister Mary Pauline Lebeau, MM
Born: July 9, 1889
Entered: September 24, 1922
Died: March 20, 1980
Sister Mary Pauline Lebeau died as she had lived, quietly and gently, on the morning of March 20th at the Maryknoll Nursing Home, Maryknoll, N. Y. Although one of our eldest members, Sister Pauline was active and involved in all the activities of the Community.
Marie Korty Lebeau was born July 9, 1889 in Lafayette, Indiana of Bert and Julia Korty. She was reared there in the American Midwest with her brother, Edward, and sister, Annette. She attended St. Ignatius Academy in Lafayette and took business courses, which would later serve her well in many of the responsibilities she held in Community.
Marie Korty married Francis Lebeau, but their life together was to be brief; he died in 1921. Marie devoted the last three years of their life together nursing him in his illness. They both shared an interest in the work of Maryknoll through the FIELD AFAR Magazine. After her husband died, Marie applied to the new Community, asking to “devote my life to God and the salvation of souls for him”. Marie Korty entered Maryknoll at age of 33 on September 24, 1922, and at Reception was given the name “Sister Mary Pauline”. She made her Final Vows on April 30, 1928.
All of Sister Pauline’s missionary assignments were in the U.S.: at The Center, on the West Coast, and in our Novitiate houses. Much of her life was spent on Promotion doing Mission Education and Fundraising for the Community. The work for which many will long remember Sister Pauline was in our Salesroom – now, the International Gift Shop.
In the past decade, Sister Pauline shared a deep concern about preserving the heritage of Maryknoll. A woman of culture and refinement, she wrote in 1974 to the Central Governing Board of her interest in preserving our Museum collection as Community treasures for use of all who view them, and as a point of contact with the cultures and customs of many nations. While at Bethany, she suggested remodeling the Fourth Floor of the Motherhouse for our Nursing Home rather than constructing a separate building, both for economy and for nearness to the heart of Maryknoll. Sister also urged Community prayer as central to the life of all Maryknoll Sisters.
In the 1950’s, Sister Pauline was superior of our large house on Greenwood Avenue in the south side of Chicago. This house was a home away from home for those Sisters who worked at Catholic Charities in the City, Sisters on Promotion, those studying in Chicago and Milwaukee, Sisters traveling across country, as well as for other Religious orders, and visitors of all kinds. Sister Pauline was a perfect lady and a gracious hostess, making each one feel comfortable and at home; seeing that there was time for rest, good food, prayer, and recreation. She especially enjoyed treating guests to wine and cheese which to this day still seems to be a Maryknoll custom. Sister Pauline kept in close contact with relatives of our Sisters, and with benefactors in the Midwest area, often inviting them over to our house. She reminded us that the growth of Maryknoll was in large part due to the generosity of our relatives and benefactors, and that we owed them a debt of gratitude that could only be repaid by our prayers, continued kindness towards them, and dedication to our apostolates and Maryknoll ideals.
Many Maryknollers at our Center were reacquainted with Sister Pauline in the Maryknoll Nursing home where she maintained an active interest in whatever was going on in the Community, asking to attend special Liturgies here in our Center Chapel; lectures; visiting the Gift Shop where she would often buy something for those who had been good to her and Maryknoll over the years. She kept up her correspondence as long as she was able.
She was accustomed to spending much time in Chapel in the Maryknoll Nursing Home and once said that Christ in the Blessed Sacrament was the focus of her life day and night, always in the back of her mind, and in the forefront whenever she was free to pray.