Sister Mary Catherine Stana was a superb organizer, according to her childhood friend, Sister Dolores Conley. She combined that skill with a caring and loving nature.
"She was genuinely interested in people," Sister Judith Ann Criner said. "That is why she did so well in education and in running our senior center."
Sister Mary Catherine died Tuesday at UPMC Passavant after a short battle with cancer. She was 70 and had been a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh for 52 years.
When Sister Mary Catherine was still a high school student at St. Benedict Academy in Ross, she founded a club for other girls. "Every Friday night we would get together to play records, enjoy some treats and sing hymns she taught us," Sister Dolores recalled.
Sister Mary Catherine took great pride in her Irish heritage, and she was particularly pleased when her group, the Marian Daughters, was invited to sing for the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Sister Dolores said.
She was the only child of Andrew and Mary Horgan Stana.
She attended St. Stephen School in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood, where students were taught by Sisters of Charity. She went on to high school at St. Benedict Academy in Ross, which was run by the Benedictine Sisters. In 1958 she entered the order as a novice with the name Sister Marian, making her first vows in 1960. She later returned to her birth name.
Sister Mary Catherine taught elementary pupils from 1960 to 1979 at Catholic schools in the Pittsburgh, Altoona-Johnstown and Greensburg dioceses. She taught high school biology from 1979 to 1985 at St. Benedict Academy.
After the school closed, she served as the executive director of the Benedictine Center until 2002. Until the time of her death she was an escort and companion to older nuns in her order.
While Sister Mary Catherine's ethnic background was Slovenian and Irish, she identified more with the latter, Sister Judith Ann said. "She had an Irish twinkle in her eye and an engaging and welcoming smile," she said. That smile served her well during her decades as a teacher and later as she worked with older people as head of the Benedictine Center. The facility, operated from the Benedictine Monastery in Ross, offered seniors multiple activities, including education and enrichment courses, health screening services and adult day care.
The center closed last year after the Ross property was sold. The sisters have broken ground for a new monastery in Richland.
Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. today in St. Benedict Monastery, 4530 Perrysville Ave. Interment will be in the sisters' plot at St. Mary's Cemetery, Mount Troy Road, Reserve.
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 412-263-1159.