Sister Marjorie Schnellinger, MM

Born: January 2, 1923
Entered: February 1, 1951
Died: May 7, 2003

On the morning of May 7, 2003 our Sister Marjorie Schnellinger passed through that “utter darkness” into “the dawn of God.” She died peacefully at home supported by Sisters Rita Nixon and Helen Scheel. She had been a Maryknoll Sister for 52 years.

Marjorie Loretta Schnellinger was born the fifth of eight children to Alma Adelman Schnellinger and Carl Schnellinger on January 2, 1923 in Norwalk, Ohio. She graduated from Monroville High School in 1941. Marge then held bookkeeping and accounting positions in Norwalk and in Lorraine, Ohio. She entered Maryknoll February 1, 1951 at Valley Park, Missouri. At reception she took the name of Sister Alma Corde. First Profession was September 8, 1953 at Valley Park, Missouri and Final Profession was on the same date in 1959 at Maryknoll, New York.

During her years as a Maryknoll Sister, she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Maryknoll Teachers College, a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration from St. Louis University and a second Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

After profession, Marge worked for two years as a bookkeeper for the Maryknoll Fathers. She served as Hospital Administrator at Maryknoll Hospital in Monrovia, California from 1961 to its closing in 1968. After the 1968 General Chapter, Marge became an augmented member of the Central Governing Board for two years. In returning to the Western U.S. Region, she served as Coordinator for three years. During those three years, Marge held part-time jobs in which she coordinated the Christmas Clearing Bureau for the City of Pasadena, staffed the Division on Aging and Campership Committees, and directed the Drug Treatment Program in Pasadena.

In 1974, it became necessary for Helen to return to Baltimore to assist in the care of her mother. Helen, Marge and Rita moved there as a community. Marge volunteered at the local parish and at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, a program directed by the Jesuits to make home ownership possible for poorer families.

It was then that she attended and graduated from Towson State University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. This led her to the following positions: O.T. staff at Mt. Wilson State Hospital, Assistant Director of Programs and Activities at Stella Maris Hospice, Coordinator of Volunteers for the Homebound Program for the Office on Aging Howard County, Maryland.

During her time in both the Western Region and the Eastern Region, Marge served as Finance Director. Sister Bernie Remedios always said that if she got an annual financial report from Marge, she knew it was all ok. In every position Marge held, she carried out her responsibilities with utmost competence and integrity. She excelled in preserving confidentiality.

Her years of ministry seemed to peak when she became the Pastoral Associate of Corpus Christi parish where Sister Jane Coyle, Medical Mission Sister, served as the pastor. Jane and Marge were a great team because Jane had the gifts and skills for pastoring while Marge had the gifts and skills in finance and overseeing the physical plant. In addition, Marge hesitantly took on the responsibility of the RCIA program as well as supervising the Christian education of the parish children. In doing this as well as visiting the sick in the parish, Marge uncovered gifts she had no idea she possessed.

John Gray – a Corpus Christi parishioner – in closing his reflections on Marge at the Corpus Christi liturgy last week, expressed the parish’s appreciation of Marge. He ended by saying: “With us, Sister Marge was what she had been for the 45 years before she came to us – a Maryknoll Missionary. And so we are profoundly grateful to the Maryknoll Sisters who gave her to us. She has been your gift to us.”

Not to add to the length of this letter, but it would be utterly neglectful if we failed to draw attention to the side of Marge that was not administrative or organizational. Marge was extremely creative. Everywhere we look around the house we see something Marge made – a product of her creativity- the clothes we wear, the curtains or drapes on the windows, the pictures on the wall, the rugs on the floor. Many of our friends are also recipients of Marge’s creative talents. Not recently but in years gone by she never sat with idle hands. Something was always in the making.

We morn the loss of this special person, but we rejoice in her experience of that “dawn of God” of which Tielhard writes.

We welcome Sister Marjorie’s niece, who is with us this morning. And we thank our Maryknoll friend and brother Father John Sullivan, celebrant at this Liturgy of Christian Burial, who ministered to Marge with great sensitivity during the last months of her illness.