Sr. Audrey Cleary, OSB, dies; teacher, also in diocesan, parish, and prayer ministries

Sister Audrey Cleary, OSB

ROCK ISLAND — A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 4, in the chapel of St. Mary Monastery, for Sister Audrey Cleary, OSB. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery, also in Rock Island.

Visitation is planned for Thursday, Jan. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the monastery, 2200 88th Ave. W. A Christian wake service will take place at 7 p.m.

Sister Audrey died on Dec. 31, 2018, at the monastery, She was 78.

Born in Bloomington on Jan. 2, 1940, Sister Audrey was the daughter of Michael and Clarys (Fulton) Cleary. She attended El Paso Grade School and was a graduate of the Academy of Our Lady in Peoria.

She received a bachelor of arts degree from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa; a master of arts from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and a master of arts in spirituality from St. Mary’s University in Toronto.

Sister Audrey entered the Benedictine community on Feb. 2, 1959. She professed vows as a Sister of St. Benedict on July 11, 1960, and made her final profession on July 11, 1965.

She taught at St. Mary School in Wenona (1961), Holy Family School in Peoria (1962-65), St. Mary School in Moline, St. Mary’s Academy in Nauvoo (1967-68), and Alleman High School in Rock Island (1968-70). She also served at the Benedictine Religious Education Center in Ladd (1970), and was associate director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria from 1972 to 1977.

As a pastoral associate, Sister Audrey was part of the Rock Island-Milan Cooperative Ministry (1978-81), and worked at St. Mary in Moline (1981-83), and Holy Trinity in Bloomington (1983-90). Her ministry also took her to the Sacred Heart House of Prayer in Rock Island (1990-94), and St. Ambrose Prayer and Spirituality Center in Davenport (1994-2000).

Sister Audrey’s mother and Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen were first cousins and good friends, and Sister Audrey was able to spend time with her first cousin once removed as an adult, according to her sister, Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB.

Their mother taught Sister Audrey to read when she was 4 years old and she remained an incessant reader throughout her life, Sister Catherine added.

In 2010, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her profession of vows, Sister Audrey recalled how much of her parish ministry was devoted to teaching contemplative, centering, and devotional prayer. “Hardly a week goes by that I do not hear from someone about the influence of contemplative prayer on their lives and the lives of those they touch,” she told The Catholic Post.

In addition to Sister Catherine, Sister Audrey is survived by sisters Colleen Regele, Anne Lyons, and Clarys Souter; brothers Thomas, James and David; many nieces and nephews; and her Benedictine Sisters. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers Michael and Robert.

Memorials may be made to St. Mary Monastery, 2200 88th Ave. W., Rock Island, IL 61201-7649.

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