Friends Celebrate the Life and Times of Sr. Lucille Dean

“[S]eek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”  Matthew, 6:33

These reassuring words from the Gospel of St. Matthew exemplified Sr. Lucille Dean’s life.   She loved gathering people together, appreciated others and herself as gifts from God and lived in faith that God would take care of the worries of the day.

Selecting this well-known, reassuring passage for her memorial service, Sr. Lucille was conveying a message to us, believes Fr. Oliver Doyle, president of University of Providence in Great Falls, Mont., and celebrant at Sr. Lucille’s funeral.

“She is trying to tell people how to flourish,“ he said.

“Those of us who are successful, as Lucille was, are aware of themselves as gifted by God.  Lucille appreciated that she was a gift to others – to her family, her friends and her religious sisters,” said Fr. Doyle. 

“People like Sr. Lucille flourish,” he explained.  “They are wonderfully free.  That was the charism of Lucille – her freedom to be who she was, gifted by God and not worrying.”

Celebrating Sr. Lucille

More than 250 friends and family attended the Mass of the Resurrection for Sr. Lucille at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in West Seattle and the evening before to remember Sr. Lucille at a vigil.  Providence Health and Services, where Sr. Lucille served as chair of the board, sponsored a reception after the Mass.

At the vigil, Sr. Mary Hawkins, who cared for Sr. Lucille as she approached the end of life, recalled how Sr. Lucille would pray Vespers every night and her deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Another service was held at the University of Providence, in Great Falls, Mont.  Faculty in full regalia and students filled the Trinitas Chapel on campus to remember Sr. Lucille.  She had served as interim president of the university in 2015-16.

Nicolas Estrada, PA

Nicolas Estrada, PA, Director of Campus Ministry at the University of Providence, and a former student and faculty colleague of Sr. Lucille at Providence High School, provided a reflection on his friend at the Mass.

“Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Sister Lucille could easily see that there was something different about her… she had a strength, a presence that is just not common,” said Nick.

“She had this marvelous way of comforting the anxious yet simultaneously making the smug very uncomfortable with just a single raise of her eyebrow,” he said. “She took the time to know every student, to speak with every teacher, to journey with her community in a way that only a true daughter of Mother Joseph could.

“Sister Lucille knew what it meant to give a life to God, she knew what it meant to be a daughter of our Mother of Sorrows, she knew what it meant to teach in the tradition of the Sisters of Providence,” said Nick.

“As Sisters of Providence, we are called to go out and serve the people.  We have that great, great gift that knowing that Providence was there, is here and will always be here.  And we can always count on Providence to see us through.  It doesn’t mean that things will always be easy because they aren’t.  But we know that the Providence of God is watching over us and, therefore, in the light of that we are able to do what we are asked to do.” – Sr. Lucille Dean

At Providence High School in Burbank, where Sr. Lucille ministered from 1986 to 2005, more than 300 people gathered for a Memorial Service on Palm Sunday.

Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, who worked with Sr. Lucille when he was the regional bishop for the San Fernando Valley, knew her well.  He also reminisced about “the raised eyebrow.”  The Bishop told a story about how when he said he attended too many meetings to join the Board of Regents, she raised her famous eyebrow and, of course, he ended up serving on the Board.

“Every place on this campus has Sr. Lucille’s name on it,” said Bishop Wilkerson.  “More importantly, every person associated with Providence High School when she was here was touched by her.  When she arrived in heaven, I am sure that God’s inbox was filled with letters of reference from the people she touched over the years.”