Diocese mourns life of Sister Cecelia Bush, CSJ
Author, former college president, editor of the Catholic Advance, dies at 99
Sister Cecilia Bush, C.S.J., a president of St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, an editor for The Catholic Advance, and an author, died July 15, 2012, in Marian Hall at the Wichita Center. She was 99.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at All Saints Catholic Church in Wichita July 21. The Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels, bishop of Wichita, presided. He was assisted at the altar by Father H. Jay Setter, pastor of All Saints, and Msgr. Robert Hemberger, chaplain for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The concelebrants representing Dodge City were Bishop Emeritus Ronald M. Gilmore, Father Robert Schremmer, V.G., and Father John J. Maes. Burial followed at Mt. St. Mary Cemetery.
Mary Winifred Bush was born on Sept. 30, 1912, on a farm near Bertrand, Mo., the sixth child born to Mary Martha (Brown) and Donald J. Bush.
The family moved to Kansas City where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Thomas School. After three years at Bishop Ward High School, she entered the Congregation of St. Joseph on March 19, 1929, and received the religious name Sister Mary Cecilia. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Marymount College in Salina; a Masters from Creighton; a Doctorate from Fordham; and did post-doctorate studies at the University of London. An educator and administrator all her professional life, Sister Cecilia taught in Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Kingman, Wichita, Danville, Parsons, and Dodge City.
Following her doctoral studies she became Academic Dean at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, from1957 to 1960. She served as president of the college from 1960 to 1971. During her tenure as president, she was instrumental in obtaining accreditation for the College from the Kansas State Department, the North Central Association and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
From 1972 to 1975, she worked in public relations and planning at Coordinated Services for the CSJ hospitals, and then took on responsibility as director of planning for the congregation and four of its hospitals. In 1984 until 1988 she was editor of The Catholic Advance, the official newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. Upon retirement in 1988 she continued being active as a writer, serving as mentor for seminarians, and playing the organ for services at Mt. St. Mary Convent.
In 2002, Sister Cecilia wrote a book entitled “A Walk Through History With the Doctors of the Church.” During an interview at that time she stated: “The Doctors of the Church are God’s way of telling us that He keeps His promises. When Jesus established the Church, He assured us that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail’ against it. The Doctors are the men and women who made sure the Church stayed the course and fulfilled that pledge despite all odds.”
On June 2, 2007, Sister Cecilia was honored as “A Woman for All Seasons” at a banquet held at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. The Sister Cecilia Award was established at that time. This annual award recognizes those who exemplify the direction of the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph “to serve the ‘dear neighbor’ with the same devotion as Joseph had for Jesus and Mary.”
In addition to members of her religious community, Sister Cecilia is survived by her nieces, Jean Faraci, Mary Poterbin, Louise Niermann, Diane Sadecki, Donna Scherzer, one nephew, Joe Hoffmann, and sister-in-law, Maxine Bush.
Memorial contributions may be made to Sisters of St. Joseph Dear Neighbor Ministries, Inc., 3700 E. Lincoln,Wichita, KS 67218.