Sister Eugene Marie Geiger, SSND
Dec, 4, 1919 - Aug. 8, 2018
Mildred Marie Geiger was born on Dec. 4, 1919, in Irvington, NJ to “a loving family with devoted parents,” Francis August and Elizabeth Ollemar Geiger. She was the sixth of seven children and “received much care and attention” from her older brothers and sisters. Mildred Marie was called Chubby by family and friends for much of her life, though the chubbiness for which she was named was apparent only in her babyhood.
Baptized at St. Peter’s Church, Newark, NJ, Mildred attended elementary school at St. Leo’s, Irvington, NJ, where she was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She had “four happy years” at the Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, N.J. and began studies at the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ. It was there, as a sophomore, that she made the decision to enter the Congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Mildred was the fourth of the Geiger children to enter religious life. Two older sisters, Irene (later Sister Mary Elizabeth) and Ruth Ann (later Sister Mary Virginia) had become School Sisters of Notre Dame, and their brother, Eugene, was ordained a priest.
Mildred entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame from her home parish, St. Leo’s. Her college education was completed during the candidature. Mildred received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in biology from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University) in June, 1941. She was received into the novitiate on July 26, 1941 and was given the name, Sister Eugene Marie. Sister Eugene Marie professed her first vows on July 30, 1942.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Sister Eugene Marie earned a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Psychology and Guidance from Loyola College (now University), Baltimore, in 1958. She received a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, Philadelphia, PA, in 1974.
Sister Eugene Marie began her ministry as the seventh grade teacher at the Notre Dame Lower School in Baltimore, where she was part of the Notre Dame College community (1942-43). She taught math and science at Notre Dame High School, Bryantown, MD (1943-54) and St. Maria Goretti High School, Hagerstown, MD (1954-1960).
As the founding principal of Madonna Academy, Hollywood, FL (1960-68), Sister led the growth of Madonna as its students, buildings and reputation increased during her tenure. A former student described Madonna in its early days. “We may not have had much in the way of physical comforts or what are now considered necessities, but we did have Sister Eugene Marie and that more than made up for anything lacking. Sister would say that she was just doing her job…she didn’t know what an extraordinary job she did.”
Sister Eugene Marie was sent to St. Hubert’s Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia where she was the Director of Guidance (1968-70). The next year she was a religion teacher at Notre Dame Preparatory School (1970-71). She then returned to the role of guidance counselor at Bishop Walsh High School, Cumberland, MD (1971-91). Sister Eugene Marie said that she felt great satisfaction in assisting students formulate plans in pursuit of further education. In 1991, Sister moved to St. Pius X School, Baltimore, to be more accessible to her sister Irene, Sister Mary Elizabeth, who was ill in Wilton. While at St. Pius X, she worked as office assistant and bookkeeper (1991-95).
Sister gave community service in the Maria Health Care Center (1992-2005) before moving to prayer and presence at the Assumption Community in Villa Assumpta. She described the change in this way: “Presently I can look back over many happy years in religious life. I know that God has blessed me with the companionship of sisters who are examples of real charity and concern.” She planned to spend her remaining years in “gratitude and prayer.” And she did. Though her “death came unannounced” and unexpectedly on August 8, Sister was prepared by “a lifetime of prayer and a life well lived.”
Sister Eugene Marie was called a contemplative in action and the kind of saint you are happy to live with by her companion sisters. The virtues she had chosen as the motto for Madonna Academy were visible in her life: truth, beauty and goodness. She lived truth in her relationships. She led others to an awareness of creation’s beauty. The goodness she saw in others was reflected in the goodness shining from her eyes and in her million-dollar smile.
The Christian Wake Service for Sister Eugene Marie was held at Villa Assumpta on August 15. The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated on August 16 by Rev. John McCloskey OFM Cap., Villa Assumpta chaplain. Interment followed at Villa Maria Cemetery, Glen Arm Rd., Glen Arm, Md. Sister Eugene Marie is survived by nieces and nephews.
Jeanne Hildenbrand, SSND