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Date of Passing: Nov 26, 2022

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1929 - 2022

It is with gratitude for a life well-lived that the Sisters of St. Benedict announce that Sister Catherine Josephine Labinowich passed away on November 26 at the age of 93 years.
Catherine is survived by her brother Ed. Her parents and sister-in-law Shirley preceded her in death.
Born in Winnipeg to John and Mary Labinowich in 1929, Catherine was soon joined by her brother Ed. After graduating from public high school, Catherine worked as a teller at a local bank. Her early association with the Benedictine Sisters at St. John Cantius parish led Catherine to enter the Motherhouse in Arborg, MB in 1950 along with friend Mary Rose (Anselm) Hammerling.
Between 1954 and 1979, besides teaching school, Catherine, known then as Sister John, achieved not only her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Pedagogy degrees, but three University Masters' degrees in Canada and the U.S. In 1961 she helped launch the new St. Benedict's Academy on the outskirts of Winnipeg in West St. Paul, where she taught Religion, Chemistry and Math. She was known everywhere for her gentleness and patience.
In 1970, fresh from Masters Studies in Berkeley, California, Catherine was entrusted with the Monastery's ministry, the newly-minted Educational Centre. There, she launched and assisted in many spirituality programs such as Seeking for persons entering the Catholic community, (later known as the RCIA), and Genesis 2, a year-long spirituality program and was on the team for the first Shekinah formation program for spiritual directors. In the late 1990s Catherine agreed to lead the Centering Prayer programs, inviting Fr. Thomas Keating to Winnipeg twice and training many facilitators. Catherine has been affectionately called the "Grandmother of Centering Prayer in Canada."
Catherine served as prioress of the community from 1988 to 1992 and also served her monastic community on many committees and teams where she worked quietly and accomplished much.
Catherine treasured the opportunities she had teaching adults in Belize, Central America, and being able to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She enjoyed the outdoors, admiring nature in all its forms. She loved solitude and silence. Reading, listening to classical music, cross country skiing and playing Scrabble were some of her favourite pastimes. Catherine had a precious and unique sense of humour.
At Holy Family Home, where Catherine spent her last years, she showed the same cheerfulness and peace that she was known for in her ministry and community life. The Benedictine community is grateful for the loving care given to S. Catherine from her first day there until her last.
She will be missed by her Benedictine community and by many others whose lives she touched.
The Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 14 at St. Theresa's Roman Catholic Church, 3597 Main St. in West St. Paul.
While flowers are gratefully declined, donations in Sister Catherine's honour can be made to St. Benedict's Monastery for furnishings in the new Monastery Chapel.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Dec 10, 2022

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • Dear Sr. John, Though I had not seen you in 53 years I recognized those eyes that crinkled and your warm smile. You taught me (or tried to!) chemistry when I was in Grade 10. I still have a test where I placed a cross and the words “please help me Jesus” at the top of the page before handing it in. A few days later you handed it back with your amazing smile and crinkly eyes without saying a word. You wrote at the top “Even Jesus couldn’t help you with this, dear girl.” I somehow managed to barely pass your course but what I remember most was your humour, compassion and warmth. God bless you Sister John. ❤️ - Posted by: Deb (Pearce) Thordarson (Former student) on: Dec 13, 2022

  • I had the privilege of spending five years with her first in Arborfield and then Middlechurch. Her gentle ways and kind heart will never be forgotten. She touched my life in so many ways. My condolences to all who knew her, she truly was a saint walking among us! She will be so missed! - Posted by: Jo Bunka (Friend) on: Dec 10, 2022

  • Sister John, as we all called her was a WONDERFUL human being! She was kind, compassionate, loving & always enjoyed a good laugh. She loved anything lavender!! Especially Yardleys Lavender soap!! She really was a GREAT lady & am sure she will be missed by the rest of the nuns. God Bless you Sister John & am sure you & Sister Anselm are dancing to the beat of your own drum, now that you are reunited again. God Bless.. Carol & Family - Posted by: Carol (Mentor & Teacher) on: Dec 10, 2022

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