Remembering Sister Amy Campbell, OSB
Updated: Mar 5, 2020
Our dear Sister Amy Campbell, OSB died peacefully after a few days of hospice, in the early afternoon on February 27, 2020 a few months before her 100th birthday. She passed into the loving arms of God and the Sisters who have gone before her and are there to welcome her. Born in Denver, she felt called to enter the Benedictines following her secondary education at St. Scholastica High School in Cañon City, Colorado, where she was a boarder for her junior and senior years. She entered the monastery in 1938. Her first profession of vows was on August 16, 1940, and her final vows on that date in 1943. Sister Amy held a long career in education mostly in the middle or primary grades in both Colorado and Illinois with 48 years in Colorado as an educator in Cañon City, Delta, Salida and her alma mater Saint Scholastica Academy Cañon City, CO. Sister Amy’s peaceful and gentle personality was obvious and very much appreciated by her students, their parents, and many Sisters and colleagues over the years. We invite you to learn more about Sister Amy in the following biography written by Sister Benita Coffey, OSB.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB in full habit as a Benedictine Sister of Chicago.
Romona Frances Campbell was born in Denver, Colorado, on June 6, 1920. She was the second child of William A. and Loretta Gorman Campbell who were both also born in Denver. She was baptized on August 2 of that year. Her brother, Joseph, was 8 years older.
Their mother died when Romona was three years old. They lived with grandparents until her father remarried when she was five. Her half-sister, Margaret Mary, and she were very close. Their father died when she was eleven, and at that time she and her brother joined her Uncle John’s family which included four children.
Romona Frances Campbell 1938 graduation yearbook photo from
St. Scholastica Academy Cañon City, CO.
Romona attended elementary school at St. Catherine’s Parish in Denver, and then Morey Junior High. After two years at East Denver High School, the generosity of a great-aunt made it possible for her to attend Saint Scholastica in Cañon City, Colorado, where she was a boarder for her junior and senior years. Welcomed by the Benedictine Sisters, she came to know and admire them, and their way of life gradually inspired her as she looked to her own future. She graduated in June 1938, and on September 7 Romona left her beloved Colorado for Chicago to enter the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago at St. Scholastica Monastery. At the end of the postulancy in the summer of 1939, she was invested as a novice, receiving the habit and the religious name Sister Amy. Her first profession of vows was on August 16, 1940, and her final vows on that date in 1943.
Sister Amy’s love of children and her gentle demeanor suited her well for her long career in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the university of DePaul in Chicago but was always open to further study. She took courses over the years at Mundelein in Chicago, Loretto Heights in Denver, National College of Education, and Colorado State University.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB with shorter veil standing at a dining room table.
Sister Amy’s first years of teaching were at parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, at St. Hilary, St. George, and Mother of God in Waukegan. In fall of 1948, after ten years away from Colorado, she was sent to teach at St. Leander and then St. Mary’s in Pueblo. When returning again to Chicago, her mission was to St. Hilary School, but she was soon asked to minister at St. John Nepomucene where she taught while being principal as well as superior of the Sisters on the faculty there.
In these, her first twenty-three years of ministry, Sister Amy mostly worked in the middle or primary grades where she definitely excelled. Having herself always experienced the loving support she needed while having to face loss of parents and the many changes of residence, she not only knew the value of acceptance and kindness but how to provide it for each child. Sister Amy’s peaceful and gentle personality was obvious and very much appreciated by her students, their parents, and many Sisters and colleagues over the years.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB head shot black and white.
After the many years of moving back and forth across the country, the assignment she received in late summer of 1963 was more significant than she knew. It was to be the first of forty-eight years spent in Colorado. They were to be full and happy ones, beginning with two years at St. Michael Parish in Cañon City.
Once more, recognizing Sister Amy’s skills and experience, she was assigned to St. Michael Parish in Delta in that role she had held at St. John Nepomucene, as the superior, principal, and teacher. In six years, that same position was offered her at St. Joseph School in Salida. On completion of that assignment, she spent another three years in Delta.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB with preschooler students inside St. Scholastica Academy Cañon City, CO.
St Scholastica Academy in Cañon City, her alma mater, was Sister Amy’s final place of educational ministry. She established a pre-school in 1979 which for the next ten years flourished and gave local children a sound foundation for their formal education. Not only did the kind and orderly atmosphere she was able foster contribute much to their healthy socialization, but the Christian values the children were already receiving at home were supported. Needed skills for kindergarten were being learned in a truly happy setting.
With its Centennial Year approaching, the school began to reorganize its Alumnae Association by setting up local chapters. Sister Amy was one of the key people and this effort was her ministry until she retired in 2002. She along with a few Sisters continued to live in Cañon City as residents of St. Michael Parish. Sr. Amy, her half-sister Margaret Mary, along with her nephew Jim’s wife, Charlene, often traveled extensively. The trips which they made to Hawaii, Alaska, England and Ireland were their highlights.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB outside a front door in Colorado.
When moving back to the Monastery in 2011, Sister Amy’s status changed. She was now only “semi-retired”. Even when it was necessary for her to move about in a wheel-chair, she assisted in the Finance Office on weekdays by filling cash requests, filing, or shredding documents; she simply reported regularly to work at whatever was needed. This task continued until not long before her final illness.
Saint Mother Cabrini Shrine prayer card from Sister Amy's collection.
Sister Amy took great pride in her Campbell heritage. Her Uncle John was a major organizer as well as contributor for the foundation of the Mother Cabrini Shrine near Denver. She remained close to her family and her keen memory provided much information which she readily shared. During her hundredth year, Sister Amy, recognized as the family matriarch, did the best she could to help cousins to make connections. The Campbell legacy was of much importance to her, and she knew it to be so for them, too.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB at her golden jubilee (50 years) in 1990.
Sister Amy was what everyone needs in a good friend. Knowing how to listen, she was trusted always to keep a confidence. Her kindness was genuine. Her familiar smile was one that prompted others to smile in response. Sister Amy personified graciousness.
Sister Amy Campbell, OSB with family celebrating her 99th birthday June, 2019.
When early in January, she spoke of looking forward to her death, it did not seem at all surprising. For Sister Amy, who had faith and confidence in the presence of the God who loved her, eternity would be the fullness of joy. When hospice care began, there was some brief unrest, but Sister Amy, who had so totally loved life, slipped into peacefulness. She died after a few days, in early afternoon on February 27, 2020.
The Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on March 4, and she was interred on March 5 in All Saints Cemetery, in Des Plaines, Illinois. She is mourned by her Benedictine Sisters, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins through five generations.
To read the reflection given at her funeral by Sister Judith Murphy, Prioress, click here.