Sister Christine Elias was educator, death penalty foe and ‘God’s cheerleader’

Sister Christine Elias, a Notre Dame Sister for 72 years, taught children at Omaha Catholic schools, fought against the death penalty in Nebraska and was a cheerful, singing soul for those who knew her in retirement.

Sister Christine died April 20 at age 100 after being in hospice care since last fall at the sisters’ Fontenelle campus in Omaha.

A burial service was held April 27 at St. John’s Cemetery in her hometown, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with a memorial Mass to be held later.

She joined the Notre Dame Sisters in 1946, and professed first vows in 1948 and final vows in 1951.

Sister Christine was an elementary school teacher and principal in the dioceses of Dubuque, Iowa; Lincoln; Salina, Kansas; and Omaha. In Omaha she served as teacher and principal at the former St. Therese of the Child Jesus School from 1966 to 1967 and principal at the former Assumption School, 1948-50 and 1974-77.

After a 33-year education career Sister Christine returned to Cedar Rapids and served as parish minister with a special care for the elderly. After retiring in 1994, she volunteered, visiting the elderly, helping at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store and guiding visitors at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids.

Sister Christine moved to the order’s motherhouse in Omaha in 2002, where she continued volunteering and fought against the death penalty.

When she moved to Omaha’s Immanuel Courtyard in 2014 and Omaha’s Immanuel Fontenelle in 2017, she brought joy and encouragement to residents and staff, often singing for them, said Sister Margaret Hickey, the order’s provincial president.

Those who knew Sister Christine considered her “God’s cheerleader.”

Sister Christine was preceded in death by parents, Josef and Katerina (Barta) Elias; brothers Wes, Joseph and Frank Elias; and sisters Marie Havlik, Anne Rief, Ludmila Burian, Bessy Sasek and Hattie Skvor.

She is survived by the Notre Dame Sisters, many nieces, nephews and great- and great-great nieces and nephews.

Memorials are suggested to the Notre Dame Sisters.

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