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Sister Jeanette McCarthy

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August 9, 1938 - April 8, 2024

Sister Jeanette McCarthy, 85, died on Monday, April 8, 2024, at the Sisters Presentation in Dubuque. A funeral Mass will be held at the Sisters of the Presentation Community on Monday, April 15 at 11 a.m. with visitation beginning at 9 a.m. There will be a luncheon followed by burial. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Sisters of the Presentation, 2360 Carter Road, Dubuque, IA 52001.

Sister was born on the farm near Titonka on Aug. 9, 1938, and was 2nd of 16 children to Donald and Marian (Haan) McCarthy. Later she grew up at St. Benedict and attended St Benedict Catholic School until 8th grade, then on to St Cecelia’s Academy in Algona. After high school, she was a legal secretary at Winkel’s law firm. In 1959, Jeanette joined the Presentation Sisters in Dubuque taking her final vows on Sept. 22, 1965, (initially named Sister Mary Donald for 10 years, changed to Sister Jeanette McCarthy in 1975).

Jeanette earned her BA at Clarke college and began her 40-year teaching career. She spent six summers at Catholic University of America in Washing, DC to earn her MA degree. Sister transitioned to Texas in the early 1990s for four years yet she found she was far from home so returned to Iowa at St Patrick’s Parish in Dubuque over the next 15 years. Loras college awarded her an honorary doctoral degree for doing ministry with the Hispanics of Dubuque.  She was a teacher at Newman Catholic High in Mason City and at St. Mary’s Catholic schools in Storm Lake and the last eight years at Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City. She retired in 2012, and has lived with the Sisters of the Presentation Community.

 Sister Jeanette enjoyed playing the guitar, music, speaking Spanish, doing artwork, playing cards, sewing and family genealogy. Sister was a very creative person and developed the family historical scrapbooks in 1970. She shared her many talents, energy and gifts with a youthful enthusiasm and thankful spirit. She would strike up a song with great motivation and God-filled attitude. She had a delightful passion for life and people. She was able to visit and spend time in Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland.

After some changes in her health over several years, she continued to stay positive and had an up-beat spirit. 

It was through her large family that Sister shared the Catholic faith, from her oldest brother Leo down to the youngest, Sister loved the formation of her Catholic faith.

 Sister Jeanette is survived by her four siblings, Eileen Hovelsen, Dave (Judy) McCarthy, Denise McCarthy, Al (Deb) McCarthy and many nieces, nephews and extended families. She was preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Marion McCarthy, and brothers and sisters, Leo McCarthy, Eugene McCarthy, Cathy Heinen, Fr.  John McCarthy, Bill McCarthy, Luke McCarthy, Jerry McCarthy, Fr. Pat McCarthy, Phil McCarthy, Tim McCarthy and Paula McCarthy.

Oakcrest Funeral Services of Algona is assisting the family.

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