Elizabeth (Liz) Wendeln, SCN, 85, was born in Bronx, New York, on May 4, 1937 and given the name Marie Dorothea. She died Nov. 6, 2022, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was a professed Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 65 years.
Sister Liz’s earliest ministries were in education, teaching seventh and eighth grades at St. Benedict, Lebanon Junction, Kentucky; St. Gabriel, Fern Creek, Kentucky; Holy Family, Louisville; and St. Margaret, Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1966 she returned to St. Benedict to serve as the principal and eighth-grade teacher for the next five years. During this time, she also majored in German, earning her bachelor’s degree in the language from Spalding University in Louisville. Both of Sister Liz’s parents were born in Germany.
In 1971 she began her ministry in religious education through the Rural Office of Religious Education (RORE) of the Archdiocese of Louisville. During this time, she served 30 counties, living in New Hope, Kentucky, and Nazareth, Kentucky, until 1980. She served as the director of RORE for her last two years in that office. During this time, Sister Liz earned a master’s degree in religious studies from Mundelein College, Chicago, IL.
In 1975 Sister Liz, at the request of Sister Barbara Thomas, helped to prepare the first pastoral team from Sacred Heart Parish, Dangriga, in the Diocese of Belize. Those sessions were held at Nazareth, Kentucky. Sister Liz subsequently traveled to Belize for five consecutive summers to offer training sessions with two other pastoral teams. This formation was critical as it became the basis for strengthening lay leadership in the Diocese of Belize.
From 1980-1986 Sister Liz was the director of the Commission of Councils in the Archdiocese of Louisville chancery office. She also worked in the Lexington Diocese as the director of pastoral ministry and later as the director for parish leadership.
Sister Liz served her SCN Community as the director of temporary professed and later as director of novices. She was elected to a five-year term to regional leadership for the northern region in Quincy, Massachusetts and then elected as president of the SCN Congregation in 1993.
As President of the Congregation and chair of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Health System, Sister Liz was instrumental in moving the SCN hospitals into the newly established Catholic Health Initiative (CHI) health system. She subsequently served on the board of CHI for nine years and as chair of the CHI Board of Stewardship Trustees for one term.
She freelanced as a facilitator and consultant for several Religious Congregations and non-profits and volunteered with Sister Visitor in Louisville. The people of the rural and mission areas of Kentucky, the elderly of the West End of Louisville whom she served through Sister Visitor, those in prison whom she visited, as well as her family, friends and community members, held a special place in her heart.
She is survived by her brother, Theodore H. Wendeln, (wife – Jerri), her sister Betty A. Wendeln Cousins, five nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren, and her religious community, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
Funeral and burial arrangements are as follows:
- The wake will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Church.
- The Funeral Mass will be Friday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Church followed by burial in the Nazareth Cemetery.
- The Funeral will be webcast at https://nazareth.org/live
Funeral Arrangements are being handled by Ratterman Funeral Home, 3800 Bardstown Road, Louisville, Ky. Memorials may be made to Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, KY. 40048.
Liz was a wonderful friend! She and I were part of a convivial cohort earning our Master’s degrees in Religious Studies at Mundelein College, Chicago, in the 1970s. Many of the traditional structures of religious life had just changed and many of us were sometimes a bit unsure about how to proceed in certain social situations. Liz was there to reassure us and I’d say, lead us confidently! My first reaction from a distance was “That tall nun from Kentucky must be the friendliest person on earth!” We became good friends; I remember once that Liz went with me to shop for clothes. I was a teaching Brother at the time and had no idea how to outfit myself for school once the habit was gone! That day, she stretched the color wheel of my wardrobe far beyond what I suspect any other teaching Brother had adapted up to that time! We kept in touch warmly but only sporadically. Years later, as a Dominican priest, I enjoyed friendship with Sister Adeline Fehribach as we earned our doctorates at Vanderbilt University at the same time, and of course, the friendship between the two of them spilled over, as all good friendships do! I saw plenty of Liz again. I remember visiting her once when she was the Reverend Mother at Nazareth. She lived in a charming house down the road with a friendly sister with Lillian in her name (Lillian Clare? Margaret Lillian?) We never did keep very well in touch, but when we could arrange a rendezvous, it was as if we had last talked the day before. Liz Wendelin had one of the most engaging personalities I have ever encountered, and I grieve the fact that I’ll have to wait until Eternity for our next visit! My condolences to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and her family who also grieve her passing.
I am saddened at the loss of Sister Liz. I first met Liz when I was applying for a pastoral ministry position in the Diocese of Lexington, KY. We later became good friends and more than once, she offered me wisdom and strength during my 15 years of ministry in Harlan County, KY. Thank you, Liz, for your goodness to me over those years. I’ll see you one day on the other side!
Sr Liz was a guide and mentor to my sister-in-law Sr Marie Flowers, SCN and deeply impacted the lives of Team Flowers as well. We’ll miss her so much. Love to our SCN family. Lynne (and Michael) Flowers
I was privileged to live with Sister at Old St. Thomas for several years, Sister was like an “older Sister ” to me since I had all brothers in my family of origin. I will miss her dearly and she will always be in my heart. Sister was truly s blessing in my life.
Sister Margaret Lillian, SCN
Dear sister Liz,
May you enjoy eternal bliss. I had met you during our stay in our dear Mother House. I remember your smiling face and gentle way of talking to me. May you pray for us.
Rest in peace our dear Sister Elizabeth or “Big E ” as she was fondly known in the Colesburg and Lebanon Junction communities. She was the soul of St. Benedict Catholic School for many years, where she taught in the high school and later served as principal of the grade school. She worked tirelessly for our school and kept us all in line. I can still see her towering presence in her black habit walking the hallways. Little did we know then how big the heart of this gentle giant really was. Vivid are my memories of the Christmas plays that she initiated and directed through the years. Her love and care for us students will never be forgotten. The alumni of St. Benedict School will remember and love her always!!!🥰
I was blessed to have sr Liz teach me when I was in the 7th and 8th grade at holly family.she was women before her time. We had remained friends to this very day.I would like to thank her for the special gift of being herself and I know we will all miss her very much. But I know we will see each other again . Love you lots
Sr. Elizabeth, I have never had the privilege of meeting you, but feel I know you and that my life has been touched by you through Paul and Rosemary Terstegge. God has called one of His most cherished angels home. Thank you for how you have touched so many lives, many of whom you will never know. Rest In Peace.
It was a gift to have gotten to know and to have worked with Liz. May she rejoice as she now sees the face of the God she served so well.
Liz, my heart is broken, I can’t believe you left us so quickly. I am so honored that you became a member of the Cain family, a constant presence at our dinner table. You even got initiated into the Belikin truck ride. I am so glad that I got to see you that last time even though you fooled me because I thought you were going to stick around a little longer. I love you. I am already missing you.
I miss you, liz. You were special to me & to all who were entrusted to your care.
Sr. Liz: A remarkable women; she walked among us; emblematic of the life and treasure of Mother Catherine Spalding; indeed a prophetic voice among the lost, the least, the unloved and unwanted in our midst. May she, Mother Catherine and the hundreds of SCN’s who enjoy the beautific vision keep us in prayer. Bro. Ignatius Perkins, OP, SCNA
I remember your vist to India as President and your love and care,miss you. Pray for us as you enjoy with the Trinity
Big E as we lovingly called her ,taught myself and most of my siblings at both St. Gabriel and St . Benedict. She was a much loved adopted member of are family and was at most family gatherings.She was there when my Dad died and when Mom passed and when we lost two siblings a year ago.I’m sure she is having a heavenly reunion.I will miss her.
Liz is a saint who walked among us…
Yes, Liz, you are a shoulder to stand on and you raise me up. I had those privileges. Thank you. And, now free from your earthly pains, enjoy your eternal rest.
I remember your vist to India as President and your love and care,miss you.
I have always been amazed by Liz’s welcoming and ever embracing spirit to all. How she accepted pain and discomfort in her later years was truly an inspiration.
I miss you, Liz. You were special to me!
I just participated in the live stream Funeral Liturgy for Sr Liz. It was a beautiful tribute to her life and ministry and the love she shared with others.
I met Sr Liz back in the fall of 2000 as I interviewed for a position as Pastoral Director of a parish in the Lexington Diocese. This was truly an innovative ministry encouraging lay leadership in parishes. It was a wonderful journey.
I will dearly miss Sr Liz.
Her spirit of inclusiveness, hospitality and warmth lives on in all who knew her. Her smile was contagious, her servant leadership visionary, and her wisdom ever unfolding. My life has been blessed and enriched because of who Sr Liz was. A living vessel of God’s unconditional love. And now she will watch over all of us and cheer us on to continue to be faithful and love tenderly.
We hold you in prayer as we know you are held in the arms of our loving God.
Miriam Picconi, SCNA