S. Mary Frances Boyle
Sister Mary Frances Boyle died Nov. 5, 2021, at the age of 87 in Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility, Mount St. Joseph, Ohio. Sister Mary Frances was born on March 14, 1934 to John and Adwilda (Hebert) in Denver, Colorado. She was a Sister of Charity for 70 years.
Sister Mary Frances and her sister, Roseanne, attended St. Catherine of Siena Grade School and were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, “tremendously inspiring women” she called them. At the age of 9, Sister Mary Frances said God called her and she responded. Following graduation from Cathedral High School in 1951, she entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and made her religious profession in 1959.
Reflecting on her life as a Sister of Charity in 2011, Sister Mary Frances said, “God has blessed me abundantly, providing me with a better-than-average education, and the example of many inspiring women with whom I was privileged to work.”
Sister Mary Frances earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati in 1961. Later, she received her master’s degree in religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, in 1976.
For nearly 60 years, Sister Mary Frances ministered in education, retreat work, foreign missions, pastoral ministry and music. She began her 24 years in education teaching junior high students at St. Mary Hyde Park in Cincinnati (1954-’55). She returned to the West and continued teaching at St. Vincent Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1955-’56); Holy Trinity, Trinidad, Colorado (1956-’57); and St. Therese, Pueblo, Colorado (1957-’58). She moved to Bay City, Michigan, to teach at St. James (1958-’61) and then Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak, Michigan (1961-’63) before returning to New Mexico to serve at San Felipe de Neri, Albuquerque (1963-’66). In Dayton, Ohio, Sister Mary Frances taught English and Spanish to high school students at St. Joseph Commercial High School (1966-’67) and then Holy Trinity, Trinidad, Colorado (1967-’70) and Cathedral, Denver (1970-’71).
Sister transitioned into retreat and pastoral work in 1971, serving the Trinidad, Denver and Pueblo areas in Colorado in the following roles and parishes: director of religious education, St. Joseph, Fort Collins (1971-’72); pastoral minister, St. Joseph, Denver (1972-’77); and pastoral associate, Blessed Sacrament, Denver. In addition she was a teacher for the diaconate program at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver from 1974 to 1977 and program director at El Pomar retreat center in Colorado Springs from 1977 until 1980.
From 1983 until 1989, Sister Mary Frances served as a pastoral agent in parishes lacking priests in Manzano, Peru, and Ichuna, Peru. She called her time in Peru “the apogee of my life.” She and Sister Ann Dorenbusch assisted with baptisms, burials, communion services and training ‘animators of the faith,’ people who went into the villages to train others. “Our bishop wanted all to know that ‘the people are the Church,’” she wrote.
Returning to the United States in 1990, Sister Mary Frances served the Hispanic population in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. Known as ‘Madres Maria Francisca,’ she worked tirelessly to help families find shelter, employment and education opportunities. In addition she worked through the Archdiocese of Denver to provide opportunities for all cultures to worship and celebrate their faith. She taught priests to offer Mass in Spanish and instructed many in the sacraments. “One of the most important things is to honor cultures and not force all of them into an Anglo culture,” she once said. “With Vatican II, the Pope’s encyclical of the early 1960s, came the recognition of all different cultures in the world.”
Sister Mary Frances continued to be active in her retirement volunteering with many charitable groups in the Colorado area, such as Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic, Pikes Peak Library District, and the Flutopians, a flute quintet that has a widespread music ministry. She had a passion for music and was able to play the piano, violin and flute. While still living in Colorado Springs she joined the New Horizons Concert Band and shared poetry with the Cheyenne Mountain Poetry Group. When she moved to the Motherhouse in Cincinnati in 2012 she joined the New Horizons Concert Band in the Cincinnati area. Music continued to enrich her days.
Friend Sister Victoria Marie Forde recalls, “Mary Fran’s strong poems about her work with migrants and her mission work in Peru were inspiring. In a different vein she gathered some of us in the Motherhouse to play a variety of challenging card games every week – always fun and stimulating! She was a multi-talented person.”