Sister Michelle Rheinlander, OSB 1922-2015

michelle-for-webSr. Michelle Rheinlander, OSB, 1922-2015, spent much of her life among people with whom  conversation was impossible.

From helping run an orphanage of Spanish-speaking children in Mexico to tending newborns in hospital nurseries, her interactions with strangers often required more than verbal communication.

“I learned how to be present from babies,” she begins. “In nursing school, we had a book-smart student who, the minute she set foot into the nursery, caused the babies to cry.

“Another classmate, who was not good at book learning, caused them to just sigh. She was truly present to them.

“Presence is always an exchange.

Each interaction depends upon understanding the other person’s need. In the orphanage in Mexico, I had 87 kids under the age of six. I held each of them every day. I didn’t know their language, but I recognized their need. It was to be accepted and held. It was to be loved.”


Sister Michelle Rheinlander, O.S.B., 93, of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island,IL, died Saturday, August 29, 2015 at the monastery.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m. Tuesday in the Chapel of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island. Visitation will be 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday at the Monastery, where a Christian wake service will be held at 7:00 p.m. Burial is in Calvary Cemetery, Rock Island.

Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Milan, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to St. Mary Monastery, 2200 88th Avenue West, Rock Island, IL 61201.

Michelle (Rachel) Rheinlander was born on May 15, 1922 in St. Louis, MO, a daughter of Arthur Rheinlander and Dorothy (Groff) Rheinlander. She attended St. Thomas Grade School and Resurrection School, St. Louis, MO, St. Mary’s Academy, Nauvoo, IL, College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, and the University of Illinois Champaign, IL.

Sister Michelle Rheinlander entered the Benedictine community in July of 1940, and made her first profession as a Benedictine Sister on August 22, 1945. Her ministry after entering the Benedictine Community included serving as Pastoral Associate, St. Mary’s Parish, Moline, IL; Public Health Supervisor and Nurse with Native American groups in Arizona; Associate and Superintendent of Peoria Diocesan Schools, Peoria, IL; Director Casa Kinder, Santa Clara, Mexico; and teacher at Immaculate Conception, Monmouth, IL, St. John’s, Clinton, IL, Holy Family, Peoria, IL, St. Anthony, Atkinson, IL, St. Boniface, Peoria, and St., John’s, Bradford, IL.

She is survived by her Benedictine Sisters and one nephew, John Tittle.

Sister Michelle was preceded in death by her parents, three sisters, Dorothy Kubik, Sue Tarbi and Nan Tittle; and one brother, Arthur Rheinlander.

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