Sister Edna Hunthausen, 94, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL) for 74 years, died on August 15, 2023. She entered religious life on February 14, 1949, and took the name Sister Ann Jean when she received her habit. She later returned to her baptismal name.
Sister Edna was born on May 13, 1929, in Anaconda, Montana. She was fifth of the seven children of Anthony and Edna (née Tuchscherer) Hunthausen. After her sophomore year at Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, she entered the novitiate.
Initially intending to study nursing, Sister Edna became a teacher when she was sent to replace another Sister who had broken her leg. She taught for 17 years in schools in Missouri, Denver, and Montana. She served as principal in Livingston, Montana. Sister also served the SCL community as a regional coordinator for five years. She was able to engage in healthcare work as a nurse aide in California and Montana.
Later, Sister Edna studied religion and pastoral studies at Gonzaga University, Catholic University, and Carroll College. She served as a pastoral minister at St. Ann’s Parish in Butte, Montana, and then at Little Flower Parish on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. Sister said that her life had been graced by the faith of those she served on the reservation. She grew so close to the Blackfeet that she was gifted with the sacred object of an eagle feather and her Blackfeet name, Natayi Piksaki, or Holy Bird Woman.
An early appreciation of faith from her family formed her into a grounded, prayerful, and fun-loving person. Sister was a deep listener and had an easy laugh, which enabled her to be present to all who encountered her. She helped people to see their own gifts, self-worth, and the importance of the relationships they had in their lives.
Sister Edna was very close to her six siblings and her 38 nieces and nephews. She had a special bond with her two brothers, who were priests in the Helena Diocese: Archbishop R.G. “Dutch” Hunthausen and Fr. Jack Hunthausen. During her last years in Montana before moving back to the Mother House, Sister spent time with her siblings and family, who numbered over 250. She was full of life and laughter and was loved by all of them.
Preceding Sister Edna in death were her parents; siblings, Archbishop R.G. “Dutch” Hunthausen; Marie and brother-in-law Pat Walsh; Tony and sister-in-law Harriet Hunthausen; Father Jack Hunthausen; Arthur and sister-in-law Donna Hunthausen; brother-in-law John Stergar. Survivors include sister Jean Hunthausen Stergar; nieces and nephews; and the SCL Community.
There will be a vigil service at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Ross Chapel, SCL Mother House, Leavenworth. Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated in Ross Chapel at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. Interment will follow in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Mother House grounds. Memorial contributions can be made to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, 4200 S. 4th St., Leavenworth, KS 66048.