October 11, 2017

St. Kate’s mourns Jackie O’Hara, CSJ, ’55, professor emerita of French

This highly educated, engaging teacher, and lover of the French language and culture, was born in Duluth, Minnesota on August 16, 1933, and died peacefully on the morning of October 9, 2017 at Carondelet Village in St. Paul. A 1955 St. Kate’s graduate with a double major in French and English, Sister Jackie earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in French from the University of Minnesota. A highlight of her academic career came when receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year studying in France.

“A spirit who resonates courage,” were grateful words spoken by a colleague at her retirement in 2014, after serving 41 years as professor of the French Department at St. Catherine University. During her tenure, Sr. Jackie taught, mentored and advised more St. Catherine students than anyone who has ever taught at the University. Deeply loyal and dedicated to infusing the values of Catholic Social Teaching in everything she taught, Sr. Jackie was an eager guide for students who desired to study abroad, encouraging their curiosity toward a deeper understanding of the immigrant’s plight, and often offering her famous admonition: “Go forth!”

To her friends Sr. Jackie was known as someone with a “great spirit, deep spirituality, classic Irish wit, who was deft at word play and always up for a good party.” She was loyal and very generous with her time and care for those she loved. She delighted, with great grandeur, in slipping in a phrase or two of French to emphasize or enliven a conversation, and “never thought any situation was too serious for a good joke.”

Upon retiring, Sr. Jackie found great joy in staying connected to — and celebrating the different life events of — her nieces and nephews, as well as her former students. One CSJ remarked “not only did she remember her students by name, she could also tell you about each of their children.” While by nature Sr. Jackie had an independent spirit, she accepted help when she needed it with grace and the heart of a CSJ.

Sr. Jackie is preceded in death by parents Anna Borich O’Hara and John W. O’Hara; brothers John W. O’Hara, Jr. and James T. O’Hara and is survived by many nieces and nephews.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11 a.m., Thursday, October 12, at Chapel of Our Lady of the Presentation (1884 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota), with visitation at 10 a.m. preceding Mass and burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, following the luncheon at Carondelet Center in St. Paul.