"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac


Sister Esther Marie Humbert

Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Esther Marie Humbert died June 22, 2024, at the age of 85 in Mother Margaret Hall, the nursing facility for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Sister Esther Marie was born on July 25, 1938, to Stanley J. Humbert and C. Evelyn (Wirth) Humbert in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was one of four children, having three sisters and one brother. She was a Sister of Charity for 67 years.

Sister Esther Marie grew up in Norwood, Ohio, attending St. Matthew grade school and graduating from Regina High School in 1956. She entered the Sisters of Charity the following September. She was taught by the Sisters of Charity in grade school; it was in the third grade that Sister Marjorie Ann Suver showed her a picture of the Motherhouse and Sister Esther Marie told her, “That’s where I am going to be.”

Sister Esther Marie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1960 and a master’s in music from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, in 1970. She received the Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, in 1977. She pursued additional graduate work in spiritual guidance from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Bethesda, Maryland, in 1995.

Sister Esther Marie’s ministries spanned 50 years: 13 years in music education, 30 years in retreat services and seven in pastoral care. She came to the Community playing piano, organ and violin. Her music education took her to six schools: St. Mary grade school, Chillicothe, Ohio (1960-’62); St. Mary High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1962-’63), St. Mary grade school, Marion, Ohio (1963-’66), O’Rafferty High School, Lansing, Michigan (1966-’69), Elizabeth Seton High School, South Holland, Illinois (1969-’72) and St. Albert the Great grade school, Dayton, Ohio (1974-’75). It was during this time that a desire to share faith more directly with the people rose up in her, and in 1972 she made a ministry change after assisting with adult retreats at Ephphatha House of Prayer in Auburn, Michigan.

Sister Esther Marie went back to the classroom to achieve a master’s degree in theological studies in order to pursue her new retreat ministry. She was asked to guide the Sisters of Charity summer retreat program in 1974 and continued to serve in this position for more than 25 years alongside other retreat positions in the Cincinnati area and beyond. She found a direct calling to adult spirituality for the laity. She was a member of Retreats International and the first woman on the retreat staff in three centers: Holy Cross Center in Cincinnati, Friarhurst Retreat Center in Cincinnati and St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She served as director of retreats at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Retreat Center from 1981-’1985 and then returned in 1990 when the name had been changed to the Spirituality Center; in 1993 she and S. Carol Brenner became co-directors. Sister Esther Marie resigned in 2003 due to illness.

Sisters of Charity Associate Anne Shaffer remembered, “I met Esther back in the 1980s through the Spirituality Center. She and Carol fed my spiritual hunger. They were the first two SCs I ever met. I loved Esther’s sense of humor. The retreats and reflection evenings they offered were so helpful for me as a mom raising my children.”

Sister Esther Marie had a special love for community living and viewed her role as an initiator. She was thrilled to serve in Central Network leadership from 2005-’08. In her retirement she enjoyed the music ministry group, prayer at Mother Margaret Hall and offering prayer experiences for small groups. Her ever-present sense of humor brought joy to many.

Sister Esther Marie is survived by three sisters: Sister Mary Ann Humbert, SC, Monica Bonecutter and Judy Prues as well as nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brother, Stanley Humbert.


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