Sister Mary Jo Leifker

Sister Mary Jo Leifker, PBVM, formerly Sister Joseph Mary Leifker, 97, died on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the Sisters of the Presentation Motherhouse (Mount Loretto), 2360 Carter Road.

 Private visitation and funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Sacred Heart Chapel, Sisters of the Presentation. Sister Mary Jo has chosen a “green burial,” and will be laid to rest in the cemetery of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, Iowa.

Sister Mary Jo, daughter of Benjamin and Julia (McKernan), was born Eleanor Rita Leifker on February 1, 1924, in Galena, Illinois. She entered religious life on August 15, 1947, as a Presentation Sister in Oregon, Illinois. She professed her perpetual vows on January 3, 1953 and did missionary work in Oregon, Illinois, for 16 years before her small community merged with the Dubuque Sisters of the Presentation in 1963.

Sister Mary Jo worked in food service with her Presentation community and engaged in direct ministry with people made poor. She volunteered as an advocate for residents in a local nursing home, assisted handicapped persons with religious education, comforted the sick and dying as a hospice volunteer and tutored adult stroke victims with reading and writing. Sister Mary Jo felt drawn to pray for peace, justice and reconciliation in our world. She had a special love and care for our Mother Earth and the environment. Supporting sustainability and systemic change for the common good, she worked tirelessly on behalf of recycling, encouraging others to do the same. Sister Mary Jo celebrated her 60th Jubilee in 2008 and retired at Mount Loretto in 2010. When asked how she wanted to be remembered, Sister Mary Jo said, “All I ask of you is to remember me as loving you.”

Surviving is her sister, Clara (Bob) Snyder, nieces, nephews, and the Sisters of the Presentation with whom she shared her life more than 70 years.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Lucille (Bill) Mearns, Emily (Arthur) Janzen, Ursulene Greenlee, Florence (James) Ruhunke, Mary Ann (Eldron) Hocker, and her brothers Raymond (Nellie), Irenus, William (Mildred), Delbert, James (Marge), and Edward (Joan).

The Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Sisters of the Presentation, 2360 Carter Road, Dubuque, IA 52001 or online at: www.dbqpbvms.org.

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