June 19, 1957 – October 14, 2023
Sister Mary Anthony, Kathleen Kubat of Dearborn, MI, completed her life’s journey of 66 years on October 14, 2023, in Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent, Livonia, MI. Sister was 31 years in religious life.
Born on June 19, 1957, and baptized at Our Lady Queen of Angels, Detroit, MI, Kathleen was the only child of Michael and Jennie (Smolen). She grew up on Detroit’s west side and attended St. Luke’s Catholic Grade School and Rosary High School, graduating in 1975. Already in high school she was known as “a portrait of compassion and service to others,” and it was not surprising that service to others, etched on her young heart, would carve her future ministry in the Church.
As a young woman, Kathleen was dedicated to the care of her parents. Her father died in 1977 and 10 years later her mother passed into eternity. While caring for them she was employed for at least a decade at the famous J.L. Hudson’s in downtown Detroit. She often recalled her fascination with the elevator operators as a child; she loved the service they offered and the uniforms they wore. With an eye for fashion, she would assist customers with their intimate apparel.
Kathleen was a faithful member of the St. Christopher Church Choir that, in its heyday, traveled to sing in several distinguished places. These opportunities contributed to the deepening of her faith. Her love for life and the opportunity to celebrate kept her visiting festivals throughout the Detroit area. In time, Kathleen became associated with St. Hedwig Parish where her Franciscan Spirit was given life. Kathleen became a Third Order Member and soon found new employment in housekeeping and as a cook for the Conventual Franciscans, who missioned there in the 1980s.
With no living blood relatives, one of the friars, Fr. Robert Joseph Switanowski, OFM Conv., and his mother Josephine, adopted Kathleen into their family. As the months passed, Fr. Robert Joseph sensed that there was a growing attraction to the religious life and was instrumental in encouraging her vocation. A few years later, on August 26, 1992, Father Robert Joseph and a few ladies of the parish drove Kathleen to the motherhouse of the Felician Sisters in Livonia, MI and a new phase opened in her life.
After the deaths of Josephine and Fr. Robert Joseph Switanowski, Father James Michael Jankowski, now pastor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, continued to provide for her spiritual and material needs. Before she entered the convent, he told Kathleen, “You’re my sister as well, and I’m going to take care of you as much as I can from a distance.”
As a postulant, Kathleen began classes at Madonna University, located on the Felician complex in Livonia. The following year she entered the canonical novitiate and received the name Sister Mary Anthony. First profession of vows was on August 15, 1995, and final vows on August 15, 1999. Studies continued at Madonna while residing at the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent, where Sister also served as a part-time driver. She graduated with a baccalaureate degree in Pastoral Ministry on May 3, 1997.
Sister Mary Anthony received her first assignment to South Bend, Indiana in 1997, and St. Adalbert Convent and Parish were never the same. With a jovial laugh and boundless energy, she touched many hearts and dutifully initiated a myriad of tasks for the next 21 years.
With youth and a zeal for life, Sister became a member of the parish council, Sisters’ Auxiliary, parish choir, and the many planning committees for dinner dance events, festivals, fish fries, and bake sales. With her winning smile and personality, she was a greeter when the prep work in the kitchen was completed. As many of you know, she loved to gift others with her baked goods: Babka, Mile High Apple Pie, Chrusciki, and Beer Bread. She also prepared weekly evening meals for the priests and sisters in ministry at the parishes. Sister’s culinary skills were further recognized by both the general and provincial administrations as she was missioned to cook for general chapter, tertianship and second novitiate programs during the summer months.
As Pastoral Associate at St. Adalbert and St. Casimir Parishes in South Bend, her outreach included bringing weekly Communion to homebound and hospitalized parishioners while ministering to many others. Sister was always willing to give in abundance, whether it was her gift of teaching Religious Education classes, directing the RCIA program, organizing Bible Study for Seniors or cooking and organizing the monthly Harvest House gatherings. She often brought Polish sweets that she baked herself to homebound parishioners or to those she comforted in nursing homes and hospitals. “I bring church to the home,” Sister Mary Anthony once commented in a diocesan newspaper.
Sister Anthony was a stable force for the many changes that took place in the life of St. Adalbert Parish and its members. One case in point was the transfer of the Parish from being diocesan-run to being administered as a mission of the Holy Cross Fathers.
In the changing times, Sister was right there to be a shoulder for those feeling loss and a welcoming spirit for newcomers trying to find their way. When St. Stephen Parish was closed, the parishioners walked in procession to their new home at St. Adalbert. Sister was there to welcome them with her limited Spanish, warm smile, open arms, and love for Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Sisters also moved from the large convent at St. Adalbert to the cozy former rectory of St. Casimir Parsh, a mile east up the road from St. Adalbert, the third parish involved in the changing administration of parishes.
In 2018, a new vista opened for Sister Mary Anthony as she sorrowfully bid goodbye to South Bend and embraced a new ministry at Maryville Retreat Center, Holly, Michigan (2018-2023).
Sister Anthony understood well the statement, “The way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.” Sister had a gift for cooking, and she delighted in making people happy. Hard work at the time of retirement for most, but not this Energizer bunny! She just kept on going, delivering homecooked comfort food for thousands of retreatants. Sister would welcome any food challenge, such as gluten free, dairy free, sugar free or vegetarian. As a natural in the kitchen, she was skilled at knowing what flavors worked together whether there was a recipe or not. Again, her service was always accompanied with a smile, a hardy laugh, or a hug! All guests to Maryville looked forward to returning to her hospitality and generous home cooking!
Serious health issues, including a knee replacement, caused major problems with hospitalizations and rehab stays over the past two years. Sister was discharged from rehab at Wellbridge of Fenton, MI to Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent in Livonia, MI in December 2022, where she continued to receive PT/OT and IV therapy. In July 2023, Sister was officially assigned to Presentation Convent and on August 27, after repeated hospital stays at Trinity Health Hospital Livonia, Sister Anthony was placed on hospice care.
Her life peacefully ebbed away and at 12:52 am on Saturday, October 14, 2023, in the presence of her faithful friends SM Catherine Ryzewicz and SM Thaddea Meyers, SM Anthony slipped into the Lord’s embrace, journeying to eternity. S Joyce Marie Van de Vyver, local minister, and vicars SM Cynthia Ann Machlik and SM Juanita Szymanski were summoned and recited the vows and prayers for her departed soul.
Morning Prayer began at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, October 20, 2023, followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. in Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel, Livonia, MI. Rev. James M. Jankowski from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Las Vegas, Nevada celebrated the liturgy assisted by Rev. Gary Michalik from the Senior Clergy’s Village in Livonia. Burial was in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Southfield, MI. Sister Mary Anthony’s memory and her legacy of service will remain a blessing to us all.