Spanish | French
Home > Deceased Sisters > Mary Lu Suchan (formerly known as Sr Mary Luke) - Date of Death 05/09/2012



Latest updates






More pictures

Mary Lu Suchan (formerly known as Sr Mary Luke)

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 05/09/2012

Sr Mary Lu Suchan smsm
September 18th 1932- September 5th 2012

Margaret Mary Suchan was born in Buffalo New York, on September 18th, 1932. She was one of 11 children of Charles Aloysius Suchan, born in Austria, and Pauline Poorten from Tonawanda, NY. She came from a faith-filled Catholic family. Two of her brothers became Jesuit priests and missionaries, one in Guam and the other in the Philippines. As a child, Margaret suffered from polio, and her struggle to overcome this crippling disease no doubt marked her character with both determination and compassion.

Margaret Mary entered the Marist Missionary Sisters on July 31st 1950 and made her first vows on February 2nd, 1952. In the novitiate she took the name Sr Mary Luke and for many years this is what she was called. Later she changed her name to Sr Mary Lu – perhaps at a time when many Sisters were changing masculine names for feminine ones. However she continued to celebrate her feast day on St Luke’s day, October 18th.

As a young sister she studied at Framingham State College and received her BS in education. She was then missioned to Fiji in 1957 and taught in Suva, in Naililili, Rewa and in Wairiki, Taveuni.

In 1964 she returned to the USA for a home visit and was asked to stay on to become postulant directress and later novice directress. The late 1960’s was a tumultuous era in the country, in the church, and in religious congregations and Sr. MaryLu was on the “frontlines” of all the turmoil, with the various roles she had as a formator of young sisters, as a member of the first and very difficult Provincial Chapter of 1970 and then as a delegate to the General Chapter that followed a year later in Rome.

In 1972 she returned to Fiji and was involved in adult Religious Education. In 1974-75 she served as the novice directress for the local congregation, the Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth. During the next two years she was assigned to the Australian Province and worked at the Pacific Council of Churches in Port Moresby, PNG and then at a Pastoral Center at Wainoni Bay in the Solomon Islands.

Returning to the USA in 1977, she had a year of religious studies at the Divine Word Center in Ontario, Canada, where she obtained a Certificate in Biblical Studies and Social Analysis in 1979

Her life then took a new direction of participation in mission here in the USA. She was involved in pastoral ministry in the rural mission of Nashville, Georgia from ’79 to ’81 and then for a year in Memphis, Tennessee.

Those experiences led her to seek further training to meet the needs of the families she worked with, so she went to LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA and obtained a Masters degree in Pastoral Counseling with an emphasis on marriage and the family in 1985.

Sr Mary Lu first went to Jamaica in 1986, where she did pastoral ministry. She returned in 1991 for health reasons, but her desire to continue responding to the needs of families brought her eventually to the town of Muscatine Iowa, where she was one of the responders to the terrible Midwest flood of 1993, which at that time was one of the greatest natural disasters in US history, with more than 10,000 homes destroyed and tens of thousands of people displaced along the Mississippi, the Missouri and other rivers. She remained in Iowa for 6 years, coming from time to time to her base SMSM community in Chicago.

In 1998 Sr Mary Lu was asked to be coordinator of the community at “62” Newton St in Waltham. After her 3 year term and a time of renewal, she once again set out for Jamaica. There she lived at Catherine Mt in Montego Bay and did family life ministry. In 2005 she was part of a new community in Linstead, near Kingston Jamaica. In 2008 she returned to the USA and was assigned to the Belmont community. After a time of renewal and family visits, she moved to our Framingham community and became the contact person for our senior sisters in Marillac, Bethany and St Patrick’s Manor.

By 2010 she was really looking forward to setting out for a new mission - to work with Sr Christina in California at a transition home for women who had been victims of human trafficking. She was enthusiastic about this new ministry as once again she continued to seek ways “to respond to the needs of today with the daring a zeal of our pioneer Sisters.”

She left for Chula Vista a few days after Christmas 2010. However within a few months it became evident that she was seriously ill and she had to return to Massachusetts in July 2011, where she was diagnosed as having an inoperable tumor pressing on the lung. In August she had the joy of a last visit with her family in Buffalo when some of her family members came to bring her home. Sr Malia Aloisia accompanied her.

She remained in the “62” community for a year and was very grateful for the loving care she received from the sisters. Finally, on August 2nd when it was clear that she needed 24 hour care, she was transferred next door to Maristhill Nursing Home, where the Sisters continued to visit her. In the last few days of her life they kept 24-hour vigil with her, and two Sisters were present when she breathed her last at 3am on September 5th.

We rejoice with Mary Lu because at last she has obtained her heart’s desire. May you truly rest in peace, MaryLu – and may we follow the inspiration of your life by being
“…joyfully given to God
For the Kingdom
In the spirit of Mary” (Constitutions 23)

Sr Claire Rheaume smsm
Mission District Leader