Sunday, 29 October 2017 13:15

Former diocesan social concerns leader passes away

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Sue MorrisMary Susan “Sue” Eck Morris passed away on Oct. 5. She was born in Springfield on July 8, 1937, the daughter of Albert and C. Olive Pfeffer Eck, and sister of Al (Nancy), John (Linda), and Sara (Jim, deceased) O’Rourke. She attended Blessed Sacrament Grade School and Sacred Heart Academy in Springfield.

When she was a senior in high school, she met Jim Morris, who attended the University of Notre Dame. She enrolled at St. Mary’s College for their equestrian and chemistry programs. The couple dated throughout college and wed at Blessed Sacrament Church, Springfield in 1958.

Their children, Marie (Tim) Gabrielsen, Cathy Priest, Chuck (Rose Frantzen), Theresa (Gerry) Connolly, Mike (Mimi), and Sarah (Nick) Allen soon completed their family, until they began welcoming and nurturing 18 grandchildren. Annually, Sue and Jim took their six children to Christian Family Camp starting in 1973 and hosted regular art weekends for the entire family.

Morris taught Blessed Sacrament grade school art and high school religion at Ursuline Academy and Sacred Heart Academy. Jim and Sue taught CCD at Blessed Sacrament.

Morris was co-founder of the Springfield Right to Life and was associate director of the Diocesan Office of Social Concerns for nine years. She organized directed (individual) retreats for 25 years at the Villa Maria Catholic Life Center in Springfield. She served on the preaching team at King’s House Retreat Center in Belleville for seven years. She enjoyed volunteer work with the Family Life board, and the CYO board. She directed At Home Retreats and coordinated parish Pre-Cana programs. As director of Salt and Light, she provided retreats and missions based on themes of peace and social justice.

Locally, she was on the original board of directors for Habitat for Humanity and served as president of the board in 1993. She was an original board member for Mercy Community.

Nationally, Morris was on the U.S. Catholic Conference and was on the board of directors for the Round Table of Catholic Social Concerns Directors. She was director of Diocesan Implementation of U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral on Economic Justice for All, and was a member and organizer of Pax Christi.

Together, Sue and Jim ran Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreats. They founded and served as international coordinators of the Koinonia weekend retreat program since they started it in 1976.

They had been on their parish’s Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) team for more than 30 years and directed Nineteenth Annotation Ignatian Retreats of the Spiritual Exercises for more than 20 years. Between the years 1997-2008, they organized and led eight Living Stones pilgrimages to the Holy Land. They had given peace and justice retreats in the Midwest and Florida and have provided retreats for couples in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota.

Jim and Sue often worked as a team, and in 1990 they were honored by the College of St. Francis in Joliet as the “Outstanding Catholic Lay Persons in the State of Illinois.” In 2009, they received the Pax Joliet Award for their work in the area of peace and justice. In both cases, it has been the only time these awards have been given to a married couple.

Morris was a very active member of Little Flower Parish.

A funeral Mass was held on Oct. 14, at the Church of the Little Flower in Springfield, with Msgr. Thomas Holinga and Father Allen M. Kemme, concelebrating. A private family burial was held at Calvary Cemetery in Springfield.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Church of the Little Flower, 800 Adlai Stevenson Drive, Springfield, IL 62703 or Koinonia of Springfield, c/o Mikki Buhl, 1912 N. 20th St., Springfield, IL 62702.