EVANSVILLE — Catherine Marie (Katie) Schwenk, 63, beloved sister, friend and teacher, passed away on Tuesday, at VNA Charlier Hospice Center after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Katie was born Dec. 12, 1949, at home on the family farm near Jasper. She was the youngest of the six children of Jerome and Magdalen (Reker) Schwenk both of whom preceded her in death. She attended grade school at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Ireland, Ind., high school at the Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, and college at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville where she received the degrees of Bachelor of Science in education and Master of Science in education. Katie was a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand for 10 years. She began her teaching career as “Sister Mary Brian, OSB.” She left the order in 1981. In 2012, Katie celebrated 40 years of teaching in the Evansville Diocese. She taught third grade at St. Theresa School from 1971-1981 and third grade at Corpus Christi School from 1981-1997. For the past 16 years she taught third grade at Holy Rosary School. She received the Diocesan Teacher of the Year Award in 1993. She was very active in the Evansville Reading Council and received a Reading Council Teacher of the Year Award as well as a Reading Council Literacy Award. Katie’s devotion to teaching children was a driving force in her life. She was an enthusiastic and organized teacher; shortly after one school year closed, she would begin to prepare for the next. She said that her favorite thing was to be in a classroom with little children; and indeed, children found in her classroom, a peaceful place of learning and prayer. Often Katie would call out to the children, “God is good all the time!” and the children would respond, “All the time, God is good!” Those who had the privilege of being taught by “Miss Schwenk” often wrote to her as young adults to tell her of her influence upon them and how much they loved and admired her. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” was the scripture verse that sustained Katie for years especially in her struggle with cancer, and one that she shared with all of her students. Katie’s faith, love, courage, and grace-filled manner inspired children and adults alike. Katie is survived by her long time friend and “sister by another mother,” Karin Bagby; her sisters and brothers, Carol Schwenk Walters and husband Joe of Indianapolis, Patty Schwenk Sternberg and husband Tom of Jasper, Brother Flavian (Jerome) Schwenk, OSB of St. Meinrad, Ambrose Schwenk and wife Jane of Jasper, Fred Schwenk and wife Joyce of Washington; by Karin’s family, all of Evansville; her parents, Osborne and Mary Ann Bagby; and siblings, Rick Bagby and wife Beckey, Keith Bagby, Brian Bagby, Jill Bagby Wilhite and husband Tom; and numerous nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1301 S. Green River Road, Evansville, IN 47715, with Father Bernie Etienne celebrating. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. Friends may visit from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, where a memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friends may also visit from 9 a.m. until service time on Friday at church. Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Rosary School, 1303 S. Green River Road, Evansville, IN 47715 or Chemo Buddies, 6521 Greencove, Evansville, IN 47715. Condolences may be made online at www.browningfuneral.com.
Dec. 12, 1949 - Feb. 19, 2013
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