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Remembering Mary Christine (Christophil) Athans, BVM

12/11/2019 8:01 AM | Anonymous

Sister Mary Christine (Christophil) Athans, BVM, 87, died at Caritas Center, in Dubuque, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

Funeral services will be Monday, Dec.16, 2019, in the Marian Hall Chapel. Visitation is 10–11 a.m., followed by Sharing of Memories. Mass of Christian Burial begins at 1:15 p.m. Burial will be in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at Lumen Christi Catholic Church, 2055 Bohland Ave., Saint Paul, Minn. Visitation will be at 9 a.m., with Mass at 10 a.m.

Sister Mary Christine was born on April 7, 1932, in Joliet, Ill., to Christophil and Mary Anderson Athans. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1955, from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Phoenix. She professed first vows on Feb. 3, 1958, and final vows on July 16, 1963.

Sister Mary Christine was a teacher at the University of San Francisco and the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, Calif., where she also served as assistant dean. She was an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign and an associate professor of church history at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn. She ministered as associate professor and professor at the Saint Paul Seminary in Saint Paul, and as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Institute of Pastoral Studies and the Catholic Theological Union, both in Chicago. She worked as a guest lecturer and alumnae relations staff at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. She also taught at St. Eugene ES in Chicago; Our Lady of Peace HS in Saint Paul, Minn.; and St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix.

She was preceded in death by her parents.  She is survived by siblings Catherine Athans and Cyril (Veronica) Athans, both of Fresno, Calif.; nieces; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 64 years.

Memorials may be given to Sisters of Charity, BVM Support Fund, 1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003 or online at

Eternal rest grant to Sr. Mary Christine, O Lord,
and let light perpetual shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


  • 12/11/2019 8:18 AM | Stephen J Pope
    Christine and I were colleagues at St. Paul Seminary from 1984-88. She was a wonderful colleague and friend. She was an enthusiast for all things goods and beautiful. Our loss is heaven's gain.
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  • 12/11/2019 9:23 AM | Anonymous
    Christine and I first met in Berkeley during her student days at GTU and JSTB. She always projected positivity and hope, and enormous enthusiasm for the work she undertook as a theologian and teacher. Condolences to the BVM community.
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  • 12/11/2019 9:25 AM | William J Collinge
    I did not know Sr. Christine personally, but I want to commemorate her contribution to scholarship. Her 1992 book *The Coughlin-Fahey Connection: Father Charles E. Coughlin, Father Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp., and Religious Anti-Semitism in the United States, 1938-1954* helped answer the question of how Coughlin, the Radio Priest, moved from the social justice Catholicism of the early 1930s to the strident anti-semitism of the late 1930s. In the basement of a seminary in Ireland, Sr. Christine discovered a trove of the papers of Fr. Denis Fahey, including correspondence with Coughlin. It would be an exaggeration to say that Fahey caused Coughlin to be anti-Semitic--he was already trending in that direction--but Sr. Christine's work revealed a critical link in the story.
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  • 12/11/2019 10:17 AM | Dawn M Nothwehr, OSF, PhD
    It is with great sadness that I received the news of Sr. Mary Christine's passing. My first contact with "Christine" was as a new member of the CTSA. She and I began a casual conversation at O'Hare Airport and we discovered we both were headed to Washington for - what was my first CTSA meeting. We continued to meet at every subsequent meeting over coffee. It was also a joy to have her as a part-time colleague at CTU and to share her work and insights concerning the "Jewish Mary." May she rest in peace! Dawn
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  • 12/11/2019 11:21 AM | Rev Thomas P Rausch SJ
    Christine and I became friends in the late 60s in a class taught by David Stanley at USF. Over the years we would reconnect at the CTSA; she was always a warm, full of life, and engaged. I will miss her.
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  • 12/11/2019 4:20 PM | Susan Ross
    I came to know Christine at Loyola, where she was active in her retirement from St. Thomas, always enthusiastic about everything, always with a smile, generous, knowledgeable, and caring.
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  • 12/12/2019 1:53 PM | Dr Mary Theresa Moser RSCJ
    I met Christine when we were both students in USF's summer school in theology, and then at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. We remained friends over the years and would "catch up" at CTSA annual meetings. She was very committed to Jewish-Christian relations. She recently completed her book on the Jewish Mary and was happy with the positive reception it received. I miss her.
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  • 12/13/2019 2:05 PM | Robert E Doud
    Christine helped with putting out the Loyola Press monograph (Gannon Center) on Anne Carr, BVM. Also enjoyed conversing about BVM artist Blanche Gallagher with Christine.
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  • 12/22/2019 10:08 AM | Anonymous
    Christine was one of the most joyful, intellectually curious, deeply faithful, eternally kind, and funny. She will be much missed. I cherished her as a friend and as a colleague. We spent many wonderful times in conversation, and shared a room at the CTSA years ago. She will be much missed by all, I think.
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  • 06/10/2020 2:04 PM | David Stosur
    It was a blessing to know Chris as a colleague at the Saint Paul Seminary from 1989-92. It was my first teaching position, and like others there at the time, Chris was welcoming and keen to offer advice to one wet behind the ears. But she was also always so joyful and open and encouraging. Knowing her has been a privilege and a blessing.
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