May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Mary Ellen Walenta, CSJ

Sr. Mary Ellen Walenta, CSJ, entered eternal life on Jan. 15. She was 88.

Sr. Walenta was born in Alma, Michigan on April 8, 1935, the daughter of Kasimir and Helen Elizabeth (Liwocz) Walenta. She was a member of St. Mary’s in Alma, Michigan at the time of her entrance into the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth on July 1, 1953. She received the name Sister Kasimir at her reception on January 3, 1954, but later returned to her baptismal name. She pronounced first vows on January 3, 1956 and final vows on January 3, 1959.

Sr. Mary Ellen Walenta, CSJ
Sr. Mary Ellen Walenta, CSJ

Sister Mary Ellen received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Nazareth College in 1965 with a major in Sociology and minors in Political Science and Biology. She went on to receive her M.S.W. degree from the Wayne State University in 1967. Sister Mary Ellen also received a M.E. in 1972 from Marygrove College as well as an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Marygrove College. Sister Mary Ellen began teaching at St. James in Ferndale, Michigan and taught at many other schools in the Diocese of Detroit including St. Christopher, St. Elizabeth and St. Michael’s. In the Diocese of Lansing she was a teacher at St. John Vianney. Sister was missioned to the Child Appraisal Center and served as Director of School Social Work for the Diocese of Detroit in 1967. In 1972 Sister Mary Ellen was a special needs teacher at St. Francis Home in Detroit, Michigan, and was later named as Executive Director of St. Francis Home where she continued to serve marginalized children for over 20 years.

In 1995, and for the next 20 years, she continued her ministry in Social Services as Director of Services/Immigration Casework at the Metro Detroit International Institute and later as the Director of the League of Catholic Women in Detroit. In 2001, Sister Mary Ellen returned to education and was appointed Principal by the Board at Casa Richard Academy in Detroit. In 2006, Sister Mary Ellen was named as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Development for the Capuchin Ministries, also in Detroit, Michigan.

Sr. Mary Ellen was affectionately known by her family and friends as ‘Kas’. She was a woman of quick wit and good humor who loved life and all those in her life. Her love for children and their welfare was evident through her choices of service and ministry. She was a champion for the education of children and their good, safe-care. Sr. Mary Ellen was a daily communicant. The Eucharist nourished her for the day and enabled her to see the sacredness of all whom she encountered. Her Lithuanian heritage featured strongly in her life. She treasured family times and friendships that featured summer days at Blue Lake and Sunday Kielbasa breakfasts . She will be remembered with appreciation for arranging 25 years of CSJ joy on the Mallard yacht with friend Kathleen McCann. Sr. Mary Ellen faithfully lived her call to love the dear neighbor without distinction. May the created Trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to whom she prayed, now welcome her into eternal joy and peace.

Obituaries for clergy and religious who have lived or served in the Archdiocese of Detroit may be emailed to [email protected]. Obituaries are printed as they are submitted, but may be edited for grammar and style. Detroit Catholic reserves the right to refuse or edit any submissions.


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