Sister Katherine Theiler, longtime Isle educator, 87
Sister Katherine Theiler, a Maryknoll nun, made many connections in her 87 years.
Theiler died July 24 after a long illness.
"I think I have four families," the former principal and founder of the Spiritual Life Center had told her friend and fellow Maryknoll nun, Sister Joan Chatfield, a regular visitor during Theiler's time at St. Francis Hospice.
The first of those would be her biological family. She was born Feb. 2, 1919, in Tomahawk, Wis., the daughter of Nell Winker and Carl Theiler. She studied at St. Mary's Parochial School and Tomahawk High School, then attended the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn., graduating in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in biology.
Her second family would be the Maryknoll Sisters, a religious order based in Maryknoll, N.Y. She was given the name of Sister Carla Marie. She made her first profession of vows March 7, 1944, in New York. Her final vows were made on O'ahu in 1947.
Third family? That would be her students. She taught at Maryknoll School here from 1944 to 1955, then served as principal of St. Michael's School in Waialua. After that, she was principal of St. Anthony Grade and High School on Maui. She came back to O'ahu in 1964 — a time during which Gov. John A. Burns appointed her to the state Board of Social Services — and served for a decade as principal of Maryknoll High School here.
The fourth family would be those people who were part of her spiritual direction work. After her decade as Maryknoll principal, Theiler returned to the order's headquarters and earned a master's degree in religious studies at the Maryknoll Seminary in 1977. The next year, she co-founded the Spiritual Life Center here, a vocation she continued until she retired in 2004, though she offered spiritual direction right up until she fell ill this year.
Theiler always had a profound sense of faith, remembers Clarence Liu, hospice chaplain.
Liu recalled during his last visit, when the two began talking about regrets. He mentioned that at the end of their lives, some people may question their faith.
"That has never crossed my path," she told him firmly. "I feel so grateful to feel God's love for me. I have no fear in that area, or regret."
Liu said he was struck by her absolute confidence.
"I told her, 'I wish I was as certain as you,' " he said. "I wasn't surprised, but at the same time, that conviction was very inspirational."
Preceding Theiler in death were her parents; two brothers, Ralph (Bud) and Harry; and a sister, Viola. She is survived by brother Carl of Tomahawk and sister Nell Ann Virgil of Eagen, Minn.
The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Holy Spirit Newman Center. Burial will be 9 a.m. Monday at Diamond Head Cemetery, where 11 other Maryknoll Sisters are buried.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated in the Maryknoll Sisters Chapel in New York at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Maryknoll Sisters.