Sr. Maria Elena Padilla, OSF, dies; funeral Mass offered at Franciscan Motherhouse
EAST PEORIA — A funeral Mass was offered on June 22 for Sister Maria Elena Padilla, OSF, at the Motherhouse of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis here. Burial was in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery.
Sister Maria Elena died on June 18, 2020, at the Motherhouse. She was 91 and had been a member of the East Peoria Franciscan community for 66 years.
Born on May 19, 1929, in Dallas, Texas, Sister Maria Elena was the daughter of Antonio and Erlinda Damian Padilla. She entered The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis at Mount Alverno Novitiate, then located in Peoria, on Nov. 15, 1955.
She earned a bachelor’s degree as a medical records librarian from Saint Louis University, St. Louis, and a teacher’s preparation certificate from State University of New York at Buffalo.
During the course of her long ministry, Sister Maria Elena served as director of medical records at St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba, Michigan, and St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg, and was assistant director and lecturer of the Medical Record Administration Program at Illinois State University in Normal from 1970 to 1972.
From 1972 to 1976 she was director, consultant and educator in medical record administration with Project Hope in Brazil and Colombia. Project Hope served as a teaching demonstration hospital, assisting the people of those countries to raise their health standards.
Sister Maria Elena also served as secretary of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and was a member of the community’s council and governing board for many years. She also sat on the boards of OSF Healthcare System, OSF Healthcare Foundation, OSF Saint Francis Inc., and OSF Health Plan Inc.
In recent years she worked in the archives at the East Peoria Motherhouse.