Sister blazed trails in personal, professional life
Sister Mildred Boeh had been crossing items off her bucket list.
She rode a motorcycle around the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden when she turned 100. And her sisters arranged for her to ride in an 18-wheeler down Route 65 when she was 98.
The only things she didn’t get to do, they said, were fly in a hot-air balloon and ride on a Ferris wheel.
Sister Mildred, the longest-living nun in her Roman Catholic Church congregation, died Friday, March 4, 2016. She was 102.
“She was always such an engaging person and really was a model for vocation to religious life,” said Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, a longtime friend.
Sister Mildred grew up on Pittsburgh’s North Side with nine brothers. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden 84 years ago and took the name Ildephonse.
During her more than 80 years of religious life, she taught at 14 schools, opened a school in an African-American parish in Atlanta, visited the sick, volunteered in the Motherhouse kitchen and delighted many people with her stories and sense of humor, her sisters said.
While she was working in Georgia in the 1960s, she helped many of her students’ parents get birth certificates so they could register to vote, said Sister Mary Pellegrino, congregational moderator for the Sisters of St. Joseph. She also persuaded the mother superior at the time to allow her to break with tradition and make white habits to replace the heavy black ones the sisters wore, which were too hot in the warm weather of the South, her sisters said.
“She was a great inspiration,” Sister Mary said. “She kind of made her own way.”
Sister Mildred touched so many lives during her own long life that the sisters can’t predict how many people will be at her memorial services this week, said Sister Sue Clay.
“She really was quite a character,” she said. “She was a good friend.”
She is survived by her nieces, nephews and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Friends will be received from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 3 p.m. Monday. Burial will follow in the Sisters’ Cemetery on the Motherhouse grounds.
Donations in the name of Sister Mildred may be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph Memorial Fund, St. Joseph Convent, 1020 State St., Baden, PA 15005.
Elizabeth Behrman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 412-320-7886 or Lbehrman@tribweb.com.