Member since November 11, 1953
Deceased September 2, 2011
This month we shine the spotlight on a Catholic Daughter who has been a member of Court St. Anthony #330 since 1953. Her name is Marie O’Neill, and she is the mother of ten children; seven boys and three girls. Marie has twenty-two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. One of the O’Neill children, Tom, was ordained a priest in 1978 and served the Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, until he went home to be with the Lord in 2009. Marie’s husband, Maurice passed away in 2008, having established a mortuary partnership business in Council Bluffs. Two of their sons have carried on in the family business. One of their daughters is principal of a Catholic School and her husband is principal of a Catholic High School in the state. Two other daughters are nurses–additional examples of professions in the service of others.
A Catholic education being important to the family, the O’Neill children attended St. Francis School. After that school was torn down in 1975, they attended St. Albert. Marie faithfully cheered at “many, many sporting events” during those years with students at St. Francis and St. Albert schools. Marie says, “You go to support your children.”
She was a member of the Rosary Society and a craft group of fifteen women who met to make items for Oktoberfest at St. Peter’s Parish. Her specialty and favorite things to make were the “stuffed animals.” She was also one of six women who quilted on Wednesdays, making quilts for Oktoberfest, St. Albert auctions, babies and other people. She belonged to a bridge group for fifty years. Modestly, she mentioned that she had volunteered at Mercy Hospital gift shop for many years. She said meeting people was the best part of that experience, “I like to be around people.”
Marie remembers that, when she joined CDA in the fifties, there would be over one hundred women at the St. Anthony Court meetings. She served in several officer positions over the years, but remembers best when she was treasurer. She attended “lots of CDA State Conventions” but never attended a National Convention. Her son Matt once wrote a poem for the CDA Education Contest and placed at the State Level. She said the theme of the poem was the changing of the Mass from Latin to English. Marie was smiling with pride recalling that touching poem and the picture of him in the newspaper.
Marie’s husband Maurice founded the local Serra Club of Council Bluffs, which continues to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Originally the Council Bluffs Serra Club was a group of local businessmen; then Marie became an active member for many years, following the admission of women.
Marie still lives in the three bedroom family home that she and her husband established in 1949. There is a large room on the second floor that was the “boys’ dormitory.” Currently, the children and grandchildren “insist” upon celebrating holidays with Marie in her home. Although the house is increasingly crowded with people, they tell her that it is a “tradition they don’t want to give up.” They all pitch in and bring the meal, so they can be together in the family home. What a tribute that is to the parents who raised this wonderful family!
We honor Marie for her length of membership, her volunteer service, her devotion to the Church, and the Catholic Christian example she sets for her family and all of us.