Martha Marie Rabaut, IHM
Martha Mary Rabaut was born in Grosse Pointe, Mich., to Louis C. and Stella (Petz) Rabaut on Nov. 25, 1927. The Rabaut family of nine children was well-known in Detroit, where their father served as a United States congressman. Martha graduated from Dominican High School and then from Marygrove College, Detroit. In 1951, she entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe and received the religious name Sister Martha Marie.
Sister Martha’s early teaching career took her to St. John and St. Joseph, Monroe; and St. Mary of Redford, Holy Rosary and Our Lady Queen of Hope, Detroit. She earned a master’s degree from Marquette University in Wisconsin and then taught religion at the high school level at Marian, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and at St. Cecilia, Detroit. She served the IHM community as directress of postulants, novices and in formation, working in the community’s houses in Monroe and Detroit. She also spent a year preparing novices in Natal, South Africa.
Returning to the United States, Sister Martha dedicated herself to individual adult and pastoral ministry at Visitation House of Prayer, Monroe; Holy Rosary, Memphis, Tenn.; and for several years at St. Nicholas Parish, Virginia Beach, Va.
She moved to Michigan in 1988 and served as a retreat and spiritual director at Visitation (Monroe) for more than 10 years. In 1996, she became the coordinator of the IHM Eco-Justice Office, staying for seven years before devoting her time to spiritual direction. She was a long-time participant in the IHM Peacemakers and several Earth-focused committees. Retiring to the Motherhouse in 2008, Sister Martha remained active in her interests of spiritual growth and advocacy.
She is survived by her sister Carolyn (Jules) DePorre; many nieces and nephews; and her sisters in community. She was preceded in death by sisters: Mary Jane Amato, Marie Celeste (Sister Palmyre, IHM), Stella Marie (Sister Stella Maris, IHM) and Joan (John) Barrett; and by brothers: Louis III, Vincent and Rev. Francis Rabaut, SJ. Read Sister Martha’s Remembering.