On August 30, 1919, Ambrose and Alta (Ross) Orians presented to the world Dolores Rose, the fourth of their seven children. Shortly afterward, she was baptized at St. Joseph Church, Salem, Ohio.
After graduating from Salem Centralized High School where she was valedictorian of her class, she entered St. Francis Convent. She had never had sisters in school and did not really know any, but decided one day that she wanted to be a sister, so she got into the family Plymouth and found her way to Tiffin and to St. Francis Convent. Here she knocked at the front door and announced to the astonished portress that she would like to be a nun. Soon after, she packed her bags and was off to a life of adventure with the Lord. It was on her Clothing Day, January 30, 1938, that she received the habit and the name, “Sister Maryann.”
Surely Sister Maryann’s life can be assessed in these words: “To know her was to love her!”
Many people gathered the afternoon of August 29, 2009, at St. Joseph Church in Salem, Ohio, to help Sister Maryann celebrate her 90th birthday. Myriads of love vibrations bounced off the walls of that church that afternoon.
She poured out her love through the years on family, community, friends, and all those to whom she ministered. She never stinted or refused that love which she sealed many years ago with the vow of chastity.
She had a spirit of sharing generously whatever she had with everyone whether needy or not. This spirit she sealed with her profession of the vow of poverty.
The Bible says that living to a ripe old age is a reward for obedience. Maryann sealed that virtue with her vow of obedience.
As we recall her many and varied assignments in Community, it appears that she must have been quite versatile. She received her first degree with a major in education from the College of St. Francis in
Joliet, IL, where she graduated cum laude. She put her education to use in schools throughout the Toledo Diocese; some, parish schools, some, public schools. She served as teacher and sometimes as both teacher and principal. She took an eight-year break from teaching to become a houseparent at St. Anthony Orphanage in Toledo, Ohio.
It is hard to believe that she still had other roles of service ahead. Does it seem possible that among the many hats she wore, were that of counselor, social worker, pastoral associate, Director of Religious Education, Director of the RCIA, visitor to nursing homes and hospitals, as well as editor of a parish bulletin. Somewhere in between these positions, she received her degree in sociology from the University of Notre Dame.
Within the Franciscan Congregation, she served four years as a council member. Later she also served the elderly sisters in community and ministered to both their physical and spiritual needs as she used well her counseling skills. The Sisters loved her; she took time to listen to them and to take them to visit their families when they were unable to drive themselves.
There was one talent that Sister Maryann because of modesty sometimes tried to keep hidden. She was teaching at North Auburn in the early years of her career. It was traditional in this little parish to have Benediction every Sunday afternoon. One Sunday the organist did not show. The pastor asked Sister Maryann to play. She had had only a few lessons in her life, but being the obedient Sister that she was, she went to the choir loft. She puzzled as to how to turn the organ on. She asked one of the Sisters to pump the bellows and she pulled out all the stops. Music filled the church, rattled the windows, as well the people who had come to pray. Heads turned toward the choir, the pastor’s included. That was her first and last appearance at the organ and the final display of her musical talent!
On of the highlights of her life was her participation in a month-long Assisi-Rome Pilgrimage in 1978.
Which of these varied ministries was her favorite? She would probably have said all of them, but it would seem that the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was the one she treasured the most. She continued to keep in touch with all those who went through the program up until the end.
Sister Maryann liked ball, loved to read, liked to play cards, and she liked to make plastic canvas crosses for her RCIA classes.
Sister Maryann died at the age of 90 at 8:25 p.m. on February 10, 2010, at St. Francis Home where she had been a resident for five months.
Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by brothers, Arlis and Woodrow Orians, and by sisters, Justine Puhl, and Reva Garber. Surviving is her sister, Joanna McCarthy, her brother, Ross Orians, many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Today, Sister Maryann, many family members, friends, sisters and Associates are gathered here in this Chapel to celebrate your life and the gift that you have been to all of us. You will be remembered for many things, but especially for the “people” person that you were, the many lives that you have touched, and the many lessons that you have taught all of us.
Sister Maryann requested that this short reading be shared with all of us:
I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve
to dry before the sun
of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.
Yes, Sister Maryann, our memories of you are happy ones!