After years of writing profiles on successful people for newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, I learned early on of the importance of mentors. Mentors truly are heroes who share the best of their experiences, education, and wisdom with someone else who will take it all in and soar.
On June 26th I lost one of my mentors and spiritual advisers, Sister Alexa Suelzer, SP. She was 97 years old. Sister Alexa was a powerful role model–a woman of courage, intellect, and practicality. No doubt she was much like the matriarch of her religious order, Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin.
Sister Alexa was my first instructor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for my Master’s degree in Pastoral Theology. Sister was a tall, regal, highly intellectual woman who originally appeared formidable. I soon found her otherwise. Throughout that course in Old Testament studies, I dealt with my father’s diagnosis of cancer and death. Sister reached out to me, and never stopped sending emails and notes of kindness, encouragement, and witty humor. Her last note, which I received a couple of weeks ago, I had yet to answer. I hope she knew how much she meant to me.
Sister Alexa entered the religious community of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana on February 14, 1938 following her two older sisters, Sister Mary Josephine and Sister David. She became a Professed Sister on August 15, 1946. Her education included a Bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a Master’s degree in English from Marquette University. She also studied at the Regina Mundi Institute in Rome.
Sister Alexa received her Doctorate degree in Sacred Doctrine from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Her dissertation was published by Herder and Herder as “The Pentateuch: A Study in Salvation History.” Her most cited work was her essay, “Modern Old Testament Criticism” in the The New Jerome Biblical Commentary.
Sister taught well into her eighties and contributed to the Sisters of Providence publications regularly into her nineties.
©2015, Mary K. Doyle