Sister Maureen Sauer, 85

Minister of music in Oak Park and River Forest

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Mary Therese Sauer, 85, died on June 19, 2020. Born on Sept. 15, 1934, in Des Moines, Iowa, she finished grade school and enrolled at Notre Dame High School in Chicago where she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Drawn by their simplicity of spirit, Mary Therese felt called to join the community. She entered at Mt. Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio on Sept. 8, 1952. As a novice, she was given the name Sister Maureen, and she would be known as Maureen for the rest of her life.

With the other novices, she prepared to teach and spent seven years teaching 5th-, 6th- and 7th-graders. By then, her superiors had recognized her special gift for music. She was given a year to focus on finishing her B.A. in Music and earn a certification to teach piano. Assigned to Notre Dame High School, Chicago, she taught religion, music and singing. While in Chicago, she helped develop an inner-city choir.

In 1975, Maureen began 22 years of service as minister of music at St. Catherine of Sienna-St. Lucy Parish in Oak Park. Both the neighborhood and parish were racially diverse in an era when integration was a huge issue. She was part of a group of four Sisters of Notre Dame who formed a community in the neighborhood called "Julie House" for the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Two of the Sisters were African American and two were white. Together, they lived as witness to the diversity of the Body of Christ and the Notre Dame value of unity in diversity. 

She continued to minister at St. Catherine-St. Lucy until she was called to serve on the Ohio Province Leadership Team. Then she returned to Chicago. In 2000, she began 16 years of service in music ministry at St. Luke Parish in River Forest. Rehearsing multiple choirs, planning liturgies and playing for liturgies of all types, filled her days and evenings.

She also taught voice to undergraduates at near-by universities and gave private lessons regardless of her students' ability to pay. Maureen also served as a vocal specialist for the Chicago Archdiocesan Cantor Training Program and did extensive work as a presenter for GIA Publications and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. 

Maureen also sang with the Lyric Opera Chorus and other groups in Chicago, simply for the joy of singing. She enjoyed music and singing so much she once said she couldn't imagine ever retiring or doing anything else. "I am blessed to know the goodness of God in my ministry to God's people through music. Music is a way for me to pray. Can there be a greater gift?"

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