Linn native, Sister Irene Marie Schmitz SSND, dies

Linn native Sister Irene Marie Schmitz of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 87, died on Aug. 10 at Veronica House near St. Louis, after a brief illness.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Aug. 14 in the School Sisters of Notre Dame Theresa Center chapel in south St. Louis County, with Father Louis Nelen, who had served with her in Loose Creek, presiding. Burial was in the Sancta Maria in Ripa cemetery.
A graduate of St. George School in Linn, Sr. Irene Marie entered the SSND congregation in 1949.
She professed first vows in 1952 and final vows in 1958.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1960 from the former Notre Dame College in St. Louis.
Sister Irene Marie began her teaching ministry at St. Francis de Sales School in St. Louis. This experience was followed by teaching positions at Our Lady Queen of Peace School in House Springs; St. Joseph School in Freeburg, Illinois; and Immaculate Conception School in Loose Creek.
After 33 years of teaching and three years of community service in Loose Creek, she was missioned this June to Veronica House, a skilled nursing residence for sisters. Many people from the Loose Creek area attended.
In his homily, Fr. Nelen noted that Sr. Irene Marie had helped numerous children prepare to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
When priests would visit Immaculate Conception School to help with reconciliation, they would often comment on how gracious and appreciative the children are.
“I think a lot of that reflects on Sister’s example, because that’s the kind of appreciation Sister always showed,” said Fr. Nelen.
He noted that she was also a person of great service.
She was always quick to volunteer to help out at Mass, leading the Rosary or serving as a sacristan or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion whenever needed.
Even after her health required her to stop teaching, she could often be found helping out or vacuuming the carpet after school.
“She did what needed to be done and didn’t complain about it,” said Fr. Nelen.
Back when she was a young girl wrestling with her call to religious life, she finally said that she “had better give God what God wants.”
“And up until the very end, that is what she did,” said Fr. Nelen. “Even when God asked her to accept suffering, she accepted that and shared in Jesus’ passion.”
“We don’t know how many lives she touched, but we know it was a lot,” said Fr. Nelen. “She set that example of always listening and always responding. That kind of sums up her life.”
Surviving are two brothers, James Schmitz of Lake St. Louis and Jerry Schmitz of Millstadt, Illinois; and a sister, Jean Niewald of Linn.
Memorial contributions may be made to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mission Advancement, 320 E. Ripa Ave., Saint Louis, MO, 63125-2897, or online at:

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