May 13, 1922–November 13, 2013
Adapted from the reflections by Sister Sally Slyngstad
It is both a privilege and a challenge to speak of the amazing life of our Sister Catherine Irene. Born on May 13, 1922 to John Thoeni and Catherine Mabel Culver, she was called by many names in her lifetime – Catherine Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeannie, Sister Catherine Irene, Aunt Jeanne, CI, Kitty Irene, Kitty, AJ, and perhaps more.
Sister Catherine Irene’s dad was born in Switzerland and her mom was a fifth generation Californian, born in Benicia. She was the oldest of the Thoeni children, followed by David and Margie. She describes her childhood as “living a life filled with love from our parents, family and friends.” The family first lived on 28th Avenue in Oakland and later in Alameda where her father went into partnership in a bakery there. Their home on Southwood Drive played an important role in family life for a very long time. Sister Catherine Irene attended St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School in Oakland.
Relationships were a hallmark of Sister Catherine Irene’s life. Relationships with family, friends, our Sisters, her colleagues, the people she served, as well as relationships with beauty, music, literature, the environment and most importantly, with her God.