Sister Mary Jacqueline Quillin
Congregational Leader 1993-1998
Elected the 17th congregational leader, Sister Mary Jacqueline (Maxine) Quillin, daughter of Leonard and Catherine (Scally) Quillin, came from Lawler, Iowa, a small rural parish in northeast Iowa which, over the years, contributed 71 religious vocations to the church. Maxine attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Elementary School where she was taught by the Presentation Sisters; she graduated from Lawler High School in 1952, the year of her entrance into the community. Sister Jacqueline attended Clarke College where she received a bachelor’s degree with majors in history and education and later a master’s degree in education administration. She served as a classroom teacher in five Iowa schools and as principal in another five.
Sister Jackie’s lighthearted, loving ways endeared her to all she met. Radiant countenance, sparkling Irish eyes, with wit and humor to spare, she was a particularly successful teacher and administrator. Her pleasant disposition, energy, and charm, along with her outgoing personality, invited others into her friendship. With her gentle and regular reminder to “Lighten up,” Sister Jackie cautioned community members to avoid taking life and themselves too seriously.
Many events/changes, large and small, occurred during the five years of Sister Jacqueline’s leadership. The directional statement of 1993 encouraged sisters to adopt an ecological lifestyle in harmony with global needs. The eighth Presentation Institute was held in July 1994 at St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. The fourth APLA (Association of Presentations in Latin America) meeting occurred in February 1994, for the first time in Entre Ríos, Bolivia. The IPA (International Presentation Association) met in Ireland in 1995.
A growing St. Joseph Parish in Key West required extra space to build a school addition in 1993. This resulted in the demolition of the first Presentation motherhouse, the home of Mother Vincent and her companions. Presentation Sisters had lived in that same house and served in the Key West community for 118 years.
In 1994 the Sisters of the Visitation sold their Alta Vista Street property to Loras College and sought another location. On May 5, 1995, they broke ground for their new home on property purchased from the Sisters of the Presentation. One hundred twenty-one years after the Visitation Sisters welcomed Mother Vincent and her companions, the Presentation Sisters had an opportunity to return hospitality to the Sisters of the Visitation for their welcome of 1874.
The biggest change during the leadership of Sister Jacqueline and her council, the one that most affected the daily lives of the sisters, was the complete renovation of Mount Loretto motherhouse. “Restoring Our Home, Renewing Our Hearts” named the theme of the 1994-1996 Renovation Project. The project included renovation of the existing Mount Loretto building with an addition of a new entrance and an exercise/therapy pool space. Additionally, the lawn and courtyard were landscaped to provide a more inviting nature setting and additional parking spaces.
September 1994 marked the beginning of the renovation, transforming future life and living at Mount Loretto. The project responded to community retirement needs, while keeping in mind the mission and charism of the congregation. The efficiency, convenience and comforts provided and the opportunities for hospitality and mission surpassed imagination and expectation. Space was now adequate for sharing with civic, education and religious groups. The blessings of the renovation perdure to the present.
In the fall of 1997, the community received alarming news. Sister Jacqueline was diagnosed with breast cancer; chemotherapy proved of no avail. Sister Jacqueline died on October 7, 1998, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a year after her diagnosis and only a few months after the completion of her term of office.
Like Nano, Mother Vincent and others, Sister Jackie left too soon, before the community had adequately savored her gracious manner or sufficiently delighted in her lively repartee, before the sisters had their fill of her fun-loving ways and her zest for life, before anyone could sufficiently absorb her elegant simplicity or assimilate her everyday holiness and sparkle. Too soon.