Sister Mary Aloysius (Hanora) Mulcaire (1845-1916)
Hanora Mulcaire was born in Ireland, in 1845, the daughter of Michael Mulcaire and Mary Stokes. She entered the Congregation, February 6, 1873, from Ireland. She received the habit, August 26, 1873, and made Final Profession, August 15, 1875, at Notre Dame du Lac, Notre Dame, Indiana. She died at Holy Cross Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, January 12, 1916, and is interred in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Eight hundred cadets from the Notre Dame battalion marched in the funeral procession. The funeral oration was delivered by the Very Rev. Dr. Cavanaugh, president of the university. Sister Aloysius was a teacher. With the exception of one year at Saint Bernard’s, Watertown, Wisconsin, she taught at Saint Edward’s Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana. “She came to the Notre Dame of the seventies (1870’s) as a simple Irish girl with a sweet brogue and blue eyes.” A “resourceful woman, meeting every difficulty with some wise settlement, every trouble with unobtrusive sympathy.” (Scholastic, January 15, 1916) Sister Aloysius was the head of the Minim department for so long that even she, blunt and direct as she was, might have objected to an exact computation of the period of years. Certainly, it was in the early 1870’s that she assumed the guidance of Father Sorin’s “Princes.” “[A]s she knelt before him [Father Sorin]: ‘Honora Mulcaire, hereafter you shall be called Sister Aloysius;’ and in thought added ‘You shall take care of my Minims — my Princes — down the years’. . . for the past forty-odd years, she made young boys from six to twelve . . . gentle and thoughtful, strong, studious and resourceful. How she did this was her secret. . .” Perhaps when one says Sister Aloysius’ system was her personality one arrives nearest the truth. Of her ability and tact, there is no doubt. She was a lovable sort of tyrant who knew well how to get along with both parents and children. Hers was a motherly soul that went directly to the heart of these children in whom Father Sorin placed the “future of the Church in America.” One might say that she was a political saint. She knew how to make peace between all parties. Very seldom was her word contradicted. She found herself almost always a “final board of appeal between disputants.” I [Father Arthur Hope] have seen a letter written by a disturbed parent, in which he made some complaint concerning his son who was a Minim. The letter was sent originally to Father Cavanaugh who turned it over to Brother Paul the Hermit [Macintyre], who, on account of his acerbity, was called “The Hornet.” Paul made an annotation on the letter remarking that the woman (Sister Aloysius) was an “old tartar;” the letter found its way to Sister Aloysius, who added, under the Brother’s remark, “And he calls me an old tartar!” After her death, one who knew her well wrote: “One more well-known figure passed out of the complex, busy life of Notre Dame University when Sister Aloysius died at the convent infirmary last Wednesday. After the great Father Sorin himself, Sister Aloysius ranks next in years of service at the University.” (Hope, CSC, Father Arthur, Notre Dame—100 Years) Below is a poem penned in her honor by an unknown admirer:
AND is this death, to take Life’s very Bread,
And with her High-Priest Christ go hand in hand
Into that—shall we call it—shadow-land,
Where day’s dominion is forever spread?
And should we mourn that lights about her head,
Stand as four great archangels there might stand.
That now she lies as deathless vows had planned?
If this is death, then she indeed is dead.
For she had need no more of word or sign.
For she has passed from darkness into day
Where there is no more fear, or loss, or strife.
Than we she was more wise who did not pine
To leave the body’s broken house of clay.
Who knew the truer name for death is Life.