Women In Our History

Sister Cyprian Funkhauser

- by Catherine Podvin, OP

That Maud Funkhauser, the future Sister Cyprian, was a staunchly
courageous and generous young woman becomes clear to us when we
study her life.

Our records do not show the exact date of her birth, the names of her parents, or the number of her siblings. Nor do they show where she attended grade and high school. We do know that she was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1878, and that she was the daughter of parents who were Protestants. Sometime, perhaps during the course of her teens or early twenties, she came in contact with Catholicism and decided to become a Catholic. This was a very hard decision for her to make, since her parents were decidedly unsympathetic toward her conversion.

Maud's family was undoubtedly rather well off. She was able to study nursing and became an excellent nurse. For a few years she served at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and during that time she may have lived apart from her family.

She became friendly with some of the Dominican Sisters who ministered in the eastern part of the country. Before long, she found herself wanting to join them. Her conversion to Catholicism had been difficult for her parents, and her desire to enter a religious order was even more difficult for them. Her perseverance in the face of their opposition was the product of her strong faith, her love for God and neighbor, and her brave spirit.

From her Dominican friends, Maud learned that there was a province of the New York Dominicans in Adrian, Michigan, and she decided to enter in that area. She was determined to become a Dominican, and she felt that her entrance would be less difficult for her parents if she were not near them.

In January 1907, she entered the Congregation in Adrian at age twenty-nine. Within a few days, she was sent to St. Joseph School in Marblehead, Ohio, where she stayed for only a few weeks. She returned to Adrian, where she received the habit and her religious name, then was sent to St. John in Earl Park, Indiana. There she became ill, and soon returned to Adrian. At the Provincial House, she was no doubt treated in the white house that in 1906 had been moved to the Motherhouse campus from St. Joseph Parish, and now served as an infirmary. She was not there very long, for God took her to eternity on February 5, 1908, just a little more than a year after her entrance and in her thirtieth year of life.

At the request of her family, Sister Cyprian's body was returned to Baltimore and buried there. There is, however, a headstone for her in our cemetery.