2015 Jubilarian – Mary Frances (Marie Joachim) Uicker
Sister Mary Frances Uicker’s parents moved to Detroit from New Hampshire for her father’s job, teaching at the University of Detroit. Faith, family and education were strong family values. Her mother missed the mountains, but when they could, they built a summer home near Harbor Beach, Mich.
Together with her seven siblings, she attended Precious Blood elementary school and was taught by the Dominican Sisters. The strong Catholic influence from school and family, a stable home life and the connection to nature she experienced at her family’s cottage allowed her spirituality to blossom.
At Immaculata High School Sister Mary Fran was introduced to the IHM Sisters and was attracted to their “warmth and compassion” as well as their excellence in teaching. Their personal interest and support of the students, apparent holiness and the friendly rapport among themselves made her want to be a part of them. With her parents’ support, she joined the community when she was 17, right after high school graduation.
In Monroe, the years of her college education were contextualized by world and Church realities of the 1960s, as well as by the journey of personal and congregational faith. What emerged for Sister Mary Fran was a deepening commitment to live in simplicity and IHM community and to offer her gifts in service to the world.
Her ministry began in high school education and then shifted to pastoral work, including five years in parish leadership at Our Lady of Lake Huron Parish in her beloved Harbor Beach. But deeper winds of change were in the air. For Sister Mary Fran, former structures were giving sway to holistic approaches in spirituality and these soon found their way into external form.
Having completed a Master of Education degree in guidance and counseling as well as graduate studies in theology, she now took a deeper educational plunge, achieving a second undergraduate degree in music, board certification in music therapy and extended training in person-centered expressive therapy.
Her ministry involvements became more varied, yet woven together by her desire to foster spirituality that could nourish fullness of life for the inter-related realms of self, family, human community and the wholeness of creation. Involvement with the Dances of Universal Peace became a tangible expression of her deepened world vision; creativity in response to need was a continuing theme as she offered service to IHM Associates, Visitation Spirituality Center, hospice chaplaincy, parish music ministry, geriatric music therapy and special projects ranging from musical compositions to group process and ritual facilitation. In 2009 she gave her leadership to opening River House – IHM Spirituality Center and currently serves as coordinator of Spirituality for the IHM Monroe Campus.
Through the years, participating in the unfolding journey of the IHM community has given Sister Mary Fran great joy. She is most grateful “to be a part of a community of women who have been willing to honestly face deep questions of life.”