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College loses beloved spiritual leader

Jillian Barwick | Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sr. Mary Louise Gude, otherwise known as “Sr. M.L.,” passed away on the evening of Jan. 9 at the Saint Mary’s Convent at the age of 73. She enjoyed a rewarding career at Saint Mary’s and the University of Notre Dame that spanned four decades.

Gude was a 1963 alumna of Saint Mary’s College, having studied secondary education and French.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Gude spent most of her adult life serving Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame in various capacities. At Saint Mary’s, she worked as assistant professor of French from 1976 to 1991 and as coordinator of the French program at the College from 1977 to 1987. Most recently, she served as vice president for mission at the College.

On Monday, friends and colleagues honored Gude before she was laid to rest at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto on the College’s campus.

Sr. Veronique Wiedower, who took over for Gude in 2011, praised Gude’s commitment to the College’s work.

“Sr. M.L. was always very supportive of the work of Campus Ministry,” Wiedower said. “She was a great vice president, encouraging and affirming our efforts. We are both sisters of the Holy Cross and I have known her as a sister in the community for over 45 years.”

Wiedower said Gude had a major impact on expanding diversity at the College, including her work with the President’s Council for Multicultural Affairs.

“She loved to work with students … and was a compassionate presence to anyone in need,” Wiedower said. “[Gude] facilitated the “Friend to Friend” program about sexual orientation and Church teachings for first-year students. She chaired the Going Green group, a sustainability committee on campus, and also the Joint Sustainability Group between the College and the Sisters of the Holy Cross, looking at best practices that would support campus-wide sustainability.”

Wiedower described her fellow sister’s personality as full of life and fun.

“She had a brilliant mind and loved to pass on her knowledge and insights,” Wiedower said. “She contributed her translation skills and knowledge of all things French with Holy Cross programs in Le Mans, and helped to translate for Congregation chapters and international events.”

“She loved her local community and continued to share life with them even when her illness necessitated her move to Saint Mary’s Convent,” she said. “[Gude] loved getting to know our newer members from around the world and was a great mentor and teacher to them.”

For Wiedower, Gude’s passing meant the loss of a sister, friend and mentor.

“She knew who she was and always accepted others for who they were,” Wiedower said. “Although we are very different personalities, we worked well together and I always enjoyed spending leisure time with her. I will miss her wit, humor and deep spirituality.”

Sr. Rachel Anne Callahan, another friend of Gude’s, remembered the time she spent with the sister before she was “M.L.”

“My memories of Mary are a mosaic of special times and ordinary times – walking around the lake, her great gourmet cooking, people watching in Paris, sharing great family stories, laughing at everything and nothing,” Callahan said.

Although they had been friends for 53 years, Callahan said she wishes she could have spent more time with Gude.

“[We] have spent our lives in different parts of the country depending on ‘live’ visits as frequently as possible and phone and email,” Callahan said.

While she may be gone, Callahan said she will cherish the time she was able to spend with Gude.

“[I will remember] most especially having a window into her beautiful soul,” she said.

Contact Jillian Barwick at [email protected]