Sister Deborah Church, SNJM
Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 1:30PM

July 13, 1938 - July 26, 2018

Sister Deborah Church, SNJM (Sister Thomas Miriam) entered into eternal life the afternoon of July 26, 2018 after a very debilitating 12 year illness. Each day she lived the Suscipe of Saint Ignatius: “Take, Lord, and receive   all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, God, I return it.” Indeed she returned all to her God after 80 years of life and 59 years of profession as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Sister Deborah started her teaching ministry at the elementary level at Saint Theresa (Oakland) and All Souls (Alhambra) for 4 years. She then taught at Holy Names High School (Oakland) and Saint Andrew (Pasadena) for 4 more years. Graduate study for her Masters and Doctorate in Japanese and American Diplomatic History took her to the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center there. Her time in Hawaii and her field research in Japan and South Korea gave her a depth of understanding of intercultural learning. Upon completing her doctorate, she worked at Holy Names University (HNU) for 28 years. Deborah’s commitment to the University was deep and was evidenced in the many responsibilities she held over the years: history professor, chair of the History Department, Division of Humanities chairperson, helping develop the multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural CORE program and advising and mentoring international students out of the depths of her own experience. Sister Deborah had a profound impact on so many as an educator and researcher.

She was predeceased by her parents, Thomas and Claire and survived by her sisters, Mary Alvitre and Ardath Jepsen, their families, cousins and other relatives. She is remembered by her beloved Sisters and Associates of the Holy Names and by former students and colleagues.

Gifts in her memory may be made to the Sisters of the Holy Names, P.O. Box 907, Los Gatos, CA 95031 or on-line at


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