Remembering Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB

Updated: Feb 16



Our dear Sister Mariella died peacefully, yet unanticipated, on February 7, 2021, of natural causes, at St. Joseph Infirmary (St. Scholastica Monastery). Carol Rose, (Sister Mariella) the youngest of the five children of George E. and Marcella Krieg Hathorn of St. Marys, Pennsylvania, was born on March 1, 1939. Her sisters Jean, Sally, Louise, along with their brother, Richard, grew up and were educated in St. Marys. In 1957, after she completed high school, Carol entered the Benedictine Sisters’ community at St. Joseph Monastery, located in St. Marys. Carol received the habit and the religious name of Sister Mariella and made her first profession on June 29, 1959 and her perpetual vows on August 18, 1962. Her over 60 years of active ministry, were mostly in education as teacher and principal. In 1987, Sister Mariella was elected Prioress by the Sisters of St. Joseph Monastery and after two terms, she was granted a sabbatical in 1995 to St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago. During these years at St. Scholastica, Sister Mariella discerned a call to transfer her stability. Her Ritual of Acceptance at St. Scholastica Monastery was celebrated October 24, 1998. Sister Mariella served as Director of St. Joseph Court Infirmary, Sub Prioress, and in the Development Office at St. Scholastica Monastery. Sister Mariella will be remembered for her adaptable personality and leadership experience, her natural upbeat and positive spirit, and her enhanced art skills which will live on in the décor of the Infirmary. She passed into the loving arms of God and the Sisters who have gone before her are there to welcome her. We invite you to learn more about Sister Mariella in the following biography written by Sister Benita Coffey, OSB.

A young smiling Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB.


Carol Rose, the youngest of the five children of George E. and Marcella Krieg Hathorn of St. Marys, Pennsylvania, was born on March 1, 1939. Her sisters Jean, Sally, Louise, along with their brother, Richard, grew up and were educated in St. Marys.

In 1957, after she completed high school, Carol entered the Benedictine Sisters’ community at St. Joseph Monastery, located in St. Marys. Even while still a postulant, her teaching ability was recognized, and she taught the second grade at Queen of the World School, before becoming a novice.


Carol received the habit and the religious name of Sister Mariella as her canonical novitiate began. Completing that year of prayer, work, and discernment, she made her first profession and those vows were pronounced on June 29, 1959.

Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB in full habit.


In the following autumn, Sister Mariella began a 28-year career in education, serving in schools in Pennsylvania. Most of the assignments were for the middle grades. During the first year she taught in St. Marys, but in the following year she was transferred to Lucinda to instruct a third and fourth grade combination for the next four years.


Back in her hometown in 1965, she accepted the position of fourth grade teacher at St Marys School. Just one year later she was asked to move to Warren, where for two years she taught a combined third and fourth grade. In 1968 she was assigned to fifth grade at Sacred Heart School in St. Marys.

Flexibility, responsibility, and ready obedience were qualities that Sister Mariella strongly possessed, and her early years really put these to the test. They were also recognized as fine qualifications for administrators and in 1969, she was asked to assume the dual role of principal and teacher in Warren, at St. Joseph School. This began what would be the longest assignment in her career. She taught and supervised at St. Joseph School for 18 years as the final phase of her time as a formal educator.

Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB with Victoria Marconi, OSB+ in the modified habit.

Sister Mariella was elected Prioress in 1987 by the Sisters of St. Joseph Monastery and thus became the seventeenth woman to accept that position in their community. After she served her Sisters for two terms, offering an example of fidelity to the Benedictine way of life, she was granted a sabbatical in 1995.


For the next year she lived at St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago. During the time there she assisted in their community’s Development Office where her skills were most welcomed. In 1996, her period of residence was extended and Sister Mariella began to do pastoral ministry in the area. She did outreach at the nearby parish of St. Nicholas in Evanston, and spent time in St. Joseph Court visiting the retired and infirm Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.


During these years at St. Scholastica, Sister Mariella discerned a call to transfer her stability. She who had so often referred to herself as a “small town girl”, took the risk at age 59, to commit the remainder of her life to serving God in “the big city”. Her Ritual of Acceptance at St. Scholastica Monastery was celebrated October 24, 1998.

Sister Mariella's Ritual of Acceptance at St. Scholastica Monastery was celebrated Oct. 24, 1998.


During her time of residence, Sister Mariella truly became an integral member of the Chicago Sisters. She lived comfortably in the monastery, sharing common life, meals, and liturgical prayer. Adjusting to the neighborhood and city traffic was a different matter. In some of her later conversations about overcoming a fear of urban traffic, it was clear finding her way around was a challenge.

Sister Mariella thrived in her first assignment as the Director of the infirmary, St. Joseph Court. Her adaptable personality and leadership experience shone. She held that position until she was asked to become the Sub Prioress in 2007. She gave three years of support until she was called to again take up the role of Director in the Infirmary. By this time, she was living in the Villa, a smaller residential building on campus. This gave her a bit of distance from her work site, new housemates, and a pet dog.


As a new community member Sister Mariella was faithful in attendance at all community chapters and the regular house meetings. Coming into the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago as an older religious she accepted the challenge of getting to know not just the names of so many new peers but also their backgrounds and current ministries. She had a genuine interest in others and was very welcoming.

Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB served as the Director of St. Joseph Court Infirmary at St. Scholastica Monastery for many years.

At the annual Testimonial Dinner in 2007, Sister Mariella was honored with the Spirit of St. Scholastica Award. She exuded a listening heart and gave of herself in the service of others during her time living with the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, which was noted with gratitude and joy by all who knew her.


Along with the retired, Sister Mariella excelled during the art classes offered by Oblate Matt Ambre. She enhanced her skills for arts and crafts, and sewing. Her legacy includes paintings (some of which were auctioned at the Testimonial Dinners) and lovely seasonal placemats for the infirmary dining room, the latest completed in January of 2021. For years ahead, the décor of St. Joseph Court will keep her memory alive.

Mrs. Claus aka Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB gift giving at Christmastime.


Her upbeat and positive spirit came naturally for Sister Mariella. “Jolly” might provide another good term for her. Her annual portrayal of Mrs. Claus, in costume, serves as a very fine example. There she would be, in that red and white long dress and puffy cap, giving out gifts to the infirmary residents each Christmas eve. Her friendliness and cheer made her a perfect person to help in Santa’s absence.

Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB with Nurse Jeannie Silas and Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB returning home after their 2019 road trip to Pennsylvania.


When it was clear that her physical condition warranted that she leave the Villa and make St. Joseph Court her permanent residence, Sister Mariella did this willingly. She continued to serve as the director of the infirmary until retiring in 2020. While called upon to help with a smooth transition, she enjoyed additional time not only for pleasurable pastimes, but mostly, just to be with people.


At meals in the St. Joseph Court dining room Sister Mariella could be counted on to keep good conversation going. Often, she was last to leave, staying behind for short visits with the nurse aides on duty. Her absence from a Sunday breakfast turned out to be a significant sign. She has accepted the final assignment with God. She now has joy forever.

2019 Jubilarians- Sister Mariella (60th) back row left, with Sister Pat Coughlin (60th); front row left to right- Sister Eleanore Hillenbrand (75th)+, Sister Ann Sharp (80th)+, 2019 Sister Vivian Ivnatic (85th).


Sister Mariella died unexpectedly on Sunday Morning, February 7, 2021. The Mass of Resurrection for her, was celebrated February 13, and she was interred at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois. She is mourned by her sisters, Jean Klaiber and Sally Lanzel, along with many nieces and nephews, and her Benedictine community.

Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB celebrates her 75th Jubilee pictured with Sister Mariella.

To read the reflection given at her funeral mass by Sister Judith Murphy, Prioress, click here.

316 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All