Sr. Mary Christine (1932-2019): BVM sister with personal, ministerial roots in Phoenix

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Sr. Mary Christine Athans, BVM (1932-2019). She entered the congregation as a St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner

Among the many titles Sr. Mary Christine Athans, a Sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary who passed away Dec. 7 at 87, gracefully bore, two stand out.

First, Sr. Mary Christine cumulatively taught at every level of education across four states, including Arizona. Second, ecumenical work was among her passions. Those her knew her nationwide are mourning her loss during funeral services in the sisters’ home town of Dubuque, Iowa.

Sr. Mary Christine entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sept. 8, 1955 as a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle. Phoenix-area Catholics around since the diocese’s early days might know Sister’s name as executive director of the North Phoenix Corporate Ministry. She held the role 1970-76. The group of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant congregations collaborated in areas of education, liturgy, social concerns and communication.

She served on more than 20 boards and committees, including the Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese of Phoenix. Sr. Mary Christine also wrote a book, “In Quest of the Jewish Mary: The Mother of Jesus in History, Theology, and Spirituality.”

Sr. Mary Christine’s ministry in education included teaching at St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix (1966-70) and, more recently, both guest lecturer and alumnae relations staff at Xavier College Preparatory (2016-19).

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by siblings Catherine Athans and Cyril (Veronica) Athans, both of Fresno, California; nieces; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 64 years.