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Memorial honors SMC workers

Megan Loney | Thursday, January 29, 2009

Students and staff members commemorated two women of the Saint Mary’s community who passed away recently. Juanita Beasley, who died Dec. 25, and Katherine Jones, who died Jan. 15, were honored in a memorial mass Wednesday at 9 pm in Le Mans’ Holy Spirit Chapel.

“Since the students were on break when Juanita Beasley died and Katherine Jones died soon after the semester began, it seemed very important to have an opportunity for students to gather in prayer at the Eucharist,” Director of Campus Ministry Judy Fean said, “since many who might have wanted to attend the services held locally were not able to attend.”

Campus Ministry planned the memorial mass and a small reception with input from students and members of the staff who were familiar with Beasley and Jones.

“The readings, preaching and music were selected with these women in mind,” Fean said. “We as a community have shared stories of each of these women and we will remember how they have impacted the community and been a witness of Jesus to many.”

Those who attended mass stood outside the chapel, in the hallway of LeMans reminiscing and sharing what these women meant to them personally with one another during the small reception. Pat Szalewski and Becky Woods were friends with Beasley for 28 years, since she started work at Saint Mary’s where they work as well. Beasley worked in Saint Mary’s Building Services.

The two women described Beasley as a woman of strong faith and a great sense of humor.

“You could be sad, but if you talked to Juanita, she could make you smile no matter what,” Woods said.

Beasley did not have children of her own, but considered the students of Saint Mary’s to be her own kids, Szalewski said.

“Juanita was an amazing woman,” said Shelly Michalski, LeMans building leader in building services. “If you met her, you would never forget her.”

Money is being raised to pay for a tree to plant on campus dedicated to Juanita for her service to the school, the students, and her fellow staff, Szalewski said.

“We almost have enough money. The tree will probably be planted near McCandless and dedicated in the spring,” Szalewski said.

Katherine Jones worked full time in Holy Cross Hall as a Night Assistant for 18 years. Katherine worked at the front desk at night to keep the hall running effectively and was a welcoming face to all the students and their guests, senior Anna Hoefer said.

“I really got to know Katherine last year,” Hoefer said. “As an RA in Holy Cross, I worked closely with Katherine and spent a lot of time talking with her at the front desk. I will miss Katherine because she had such a presence in Holy Cross. She always has a smile or a kind word for everyone who walked past her. Katherine understood that the community of Saint Mary’s extends far beyond the classroom and she played an integral part in teaching the residents of Holy Cross the importance of our community.”

Hoefer believes that having this memorial mass was important because the influence of these women on the community of Saint Mary’s needed to be recognized.

“These women dedicated much of their lives to the development of Saint Mary’s women,” Hoefer said. “It is so important that we remember them and honor them as a community.”