Celebrating the Life of Sister Elaine Urbanek, OSF

SISTER ELAINE URBANEK
September 1, 1923 – December 27, 2022

“It should be obvious that they are joyful, good-humored and happy in the Lord.”
Third Order Regular Rule V,20

Indeed, Sister Elaine was joyful and happy in the Lord. Even as her slight body waited upon the Lord while on hospice, she wore a radiant smile. Her carefree zest for life shone through. She had hoped to make it to 100 years but gracefully and joyfully yielded to God’s plan.

Baptized Margaret, she grew up in East St. Louis with all sisters during hard times. Filled with a deep love of learning, she longed to go to high school but had to wait until her parents could afford to send her. Thus began her lifelong love of learning, especially learning about history. Her Masters degree from Saint Louis University focused on American and European History.

Her love of learning easily evolved into a love of teaching, especially teaching history. As a Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, her teaching career spanned many states and earned her awards like “Outstanding Teacher of American History in the State of Missouri” in 1989. She influenced the lives of thousands of young people. Though teaching was her greatest joy, she willingly served as principal in several large schools as well.

Throughout her 99 years, she remained politically astute, freely sharing her assessment of issues. An avid reader and faithful follower of the news, her very accurate memory of historical dates and events surprised everyone.

Sister Elaine was confident and comfortable in who she was. She was not eccentric, but she was certainly unconventional. She lived on sweets (especially pie), painted her room and classrooms orange, and wore brightly colored socks earning her the endearing nickname Sister Socks. Franciscan joy was her hallmark. With her slight frame she could easily flit here, then there. Wherever she was, there was laughter. Her words and actions always reflected her hopes, not her fears. Her needs and wants were few.

She was proud of her Slovak heritage and loved celebrating with her family.

Her deep-down joy made her very resilient, ever ready for another adventure, ever positive and hopeful, ever wearing a smile. She seemed to know that the most radical response to life’s struggles was to live joyfully — living joyfully and generously is exactly what she did for 99 grace-filled years.

Services for Sister will take place the first week in January. She will be laid to rest among her Franciscan Sisters in a special section of Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. Memorials for Sister Elaine will be accepted by the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help through the “donate” tab on the website www.fsolph.org; by leaving a message with contact information for Sister Connie at (314) 965-3700, ext 109; or by emailing srconnie@fsolph.org.

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