Site Meter Sister Caedmon Earle, OP

April 1, 1916 Ė March 16th, 2005

Sister Caedmon Earle, OP, died at St. Dominic Villa March 16th, 2005. The Mass of Resurecton was celebrated in Queen of the Rosary Chapel, Sinsinawa, March 21, followed by burial in the Motherhouse Cemetery. John Gerlach, OP, presided at the funeral. Sr. Caedmon is survived by a sister, Frances Bell, of Schaumburg, IL, and a brother, Robert Earle, of Andover, MA. Her parents and two brothers, Lawrence Benjamin and Patrick, preceded her in death.

Catherine (Kitty Fox) Earle was born April 1,1916, to Irbin Benjamin and Mary Frances (McKenna) Earle in Madisonville, KY. She attended Brush and Lincoln Grade Schools and Carbondale Community High School, Carbondale, IL. She then attended Nazareth Junior College, Nazareth, KY, for two years; Southern Illinois Teachers' College, Carbondale; and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, where she received a bachelor of science degree in English. Catherine entered St. Clara Novitiate at Sinsinawa at age 34. She made her first religious profession as Sr. Caedmon Aug. 5,1952, and final profession Aug. 5,1955. Sr. Caedmon taught in the following elementary schools: St. Rose of Lima, Baltimore; St. Dominic, Washington, DC; Sacred Heart, Washington, DC; Resurrection, Minneapolis; St. Patrick, Urbana; Holy Family, Whitefish Bay; and St. Patrick, Madison. She taught and was librarian at Visitation, Chicago, and St. Basil, Chicago. Caedmon was director of religious educa¨tion in St. Joseph Parish, Baraboo, and visited the elderly in St. Mary Parish, Appleton. In 1989, she became prioress at Trinity Convent. She continued to live at Trinity until she retired to the Dominican Motherhouse in 1999. In Feb. 2005, she went to St. Dominic Villa.

Now she has risen to eternal day,
awake in the presence of her loving God,
whom she loved so dearly and carried
unpretentiously to all of us.

On Palm Sunday, the first day of spring, Mary Ellen Winston, OP, welcomed all to celebrate the life of Caedmon Earle in the Gathering Place. Sr. Mary Ellen recalled Caedmon as a creative and innovative teacher. In an e-mail that Marie Condon, OP, wrote this past week, Sr. Marie told of one of Sr. Caedmon's students who, after a presentation in the classroom said, "Sr. Caedmon, the world is not ready for you yet."

At the Wake, Angela Donovan, OP, read from St. Luke's Gospel (1:39-44) and Carrying Christ, a poem by Ruth Mary Fox. Sr. Angela said, referring to the Gospel, "Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized the presence of Christ in the radiant presence of her cousin and the joyous response of her unborn John. Ruth Mary Fox, in her poem, expressed it this way: To these I pray that I may carry Christ. For it may be some would not know him except through me. Angela said that this is surely the way Caedmon lived her life. She knew she carrried Christ, and in her relationships with family, sisters, students, and all she met, she personified the qualities Paul wrote in his hymn on love.

As Sr. Angela concluded in her reflection, Now she has risen to eternal day, awake in the presence of her loving God, whom she loved so dearly and carried unpretentiously to all of us.

In the homily at Mass, Fr. John recalling all he heard of Caedmon's story, described her as an INDIVIDUAL. Caedmon was at ease in her distinctive habits, of thinking and dressing and speaking and teaching in her distinctive ways, of recording and sharing her thoughts and prayers and artistry, and of putting the community itself at ease.

The Obituary above was prepared by the Dominican Sisters at St. Dominic Villa, in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin.


In 1957, I was in Sister Caedmon's 7th Grade Class at St. Dominic's Catholic School in Washington DC. We were located about six blocks from the United States Capital and within walking distances to the Smithsonian Museums, National Archives , Washington Monument , and several other Memorials.

My father was stationed at Ft. Belvoir and for two years the military bussed us into St. Dominic's so that we could attend a Catholic School. The trip, which took us about one hour to cover 25 miles, would take us up US 1 through Alexandria and over the 14th Avenue Bridge. I was what you would call a short fat boy with very little self esteem. Before I graduated from high school I would attend 10 different schools. I was a very insecure boy with maybe an average ability to learn.. On a plus side, I loved history and I was in the right place, at the right time with the right teacher who encouraged my enjoyment of history.

St. Dominic's was located in an older section of Washington DC with a high crime rate. About 20% of the class came from Ft. Belvoir and the balance from the local area around St. Dominic's. In 1958, the area became part of the urban renewal for Washington DC which basically meant they were going to tear out the old homes and put in new apartments, condominiums and a freeway, which you can see on the map above. For some reason, all of us from Ft. Belvoir felt very comfortable at St. Dominic's and from what I could tell so did the local students who became our friends. Nationality and Color did not matter.

Sister Caedmon was a very unique person, nun, teacher. She was a highly educated woman who had choosen to offer her services to others by becoming a nun in the Dominican Order (OP). She had a gift to be able to connect with students of all backgrounds (rich or poor) and help them to better themselves. I have had a lot help from teachers and others as I became a man. Several teachers stand out as shining stars, Miss Turner in 4th Grade, Mrs Yancy, Mrs Waite and Mr Teachout in high school. Sister Caedmon was without any doubt one of those shining stars.

It was shortly after we started 7th Grade that we enjoyed our first field trip to the United States Capital . This was followed by field trips to The Smithsonian Museums and the National Archives . History became alive for me and the other students.

Realizing that we were a unique group of boys in a unique part of Washington DC, Sister Caedmon did something else that I never experienced at any other school. She gave us boxing lessons. Until you take boxing lessons you will never know how much exercise is involved. The discipline and the planning needed is not just muscle. Brain work is critical for any boxer to win. Muhammad Ali maybe be one of the best examples of using your brain to win.

Boxing was the perfect solution to bring all of us together as a class and as friends. We had a mixture of athletic boys and non-athletic boys like me. We all had to take our turn and after the initial fear and concern about being hurt we bonded. We were doing something that we had not done before and win or lose we enjoyed it. Boxing lessons took place at lease 3 times each week during either the morning or afternoon recess. The girls would even cheer for us during their free time from kick ball etc. I don't believe any class I've attended before or since was as close as this class. There were several boys who probably went on to play sports in high school including me but there were no geniuses in the class. We all had to work hard for our grades. But we did it together and we all did above average for this one year. I managed to get an "A -" average for the year. Sister graded on a curve and I'm sure we would not have done as well in other schools but it didn't matter. We were developing respect for ourselfs and the belief we could do it. She was a remarkable Lady, Teacher and Nun.

Because of the urban renewal, we had to find different schools the following year. I transferred to Blessed Sacrament in Alexandria, VA with some of the other Army Brats. Others were moved to other Army Bases with their parents or decided to go to the public school on the base. Blessed Sacrament School was connected to the Holy Cross Sisters from Notre Dame. Sorry to say, I did not enjoy my 8th grade and my grades really dropped from an A Minus to a D. We were given the feeling of second class citizens and there was no Sister Caedmon to offfer her support. I had considered becoming a Priest and Father (Major) Jerome Hickey who was our Chaplain did everything he could to get me into the High School Seminary at Notre Dame. My grades and the letter written by my teacher at the time torpedoed my chances. In reality, I am sure I was not meant to be a Priest and about the same time I was becoming aware of girls and it would probably have been just a short while before I decided the Priest Iife was not for me. The difference in the schools was remarkable. St. Dominics gave you spirit and desire to learn. Blessed Sacrament was more concerned about discipline than teaching. I should mention that Sister Caedmon also gave me leadership qualities and my 8th Grade Class voted me their Class President at the semester mainly because I would stand up to our teacher and give them hope.

One interesting story that is directly related to Sr. Caedmon and our boxing lessons took place a few years later. My folks died in 1960 and 1961 and my aunt, Clare Meehan was in Virginia helping us arrange a van for moving our personal property from Virginia to Iowa. One day we happened to be looking for a Moving Van Company in Washington DC and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were surrounded by several angry boys who were not happy having us in their area of the city. It was within minutes that 3 of them stepped forward and because we had been classmates at St. Dominic's, they assured the others we were friends and soon we were all chatting about Sister Caedmon and her boxing lessons.

Boxing benefited all the boys and some of the girls in the class but Sister Caedmon also noticed my interest in History and she quietly worked with me to encouraged the reading of books on the Civil War and World War II. Because of her, I have had a life long love of History which I share with my wife today. I'm in the process of documenting my family history and also blogging about Ireland. You can visit my WEB Sites in the "Other WEB Sites at the bottom of this WEB Page..

Father John John Gerlach OP described "Sister Caedmon as an INDIVIDUAL. Caedmon was at ease in her distinctive habits, of thinking and dressing and speaking and teaching in her distinctive ways, of recording and sharing her thoughts and prayers and artistry, and of putting the community itself at ease." Sister Caedmon was all of that plus my Guardian Angel and Mentor. Thanks to her I managed to finish college and have enjoyed a life that would not have been possible without her guidance. If any other students read this WEB Page on Sister Caedmon and want to add their input please contact me at the E Mail address below.

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