Mary Catherine Maher
Mary Catherine (Cahill) Maher, 91 of Joliet, passed away peacefully June 14, 2022, due to complications of cancer. Mary was born on December 16, 1930 on the family farm in rural Cedar County, Iowa, the daughter of John and Teresa (Fitzpatrick) Cahill. She was raised alongside her brother Paul (Nancy) and sisters Marilyn (Richard) Knapp and Edna (Duane) Freking. She graduated from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, earning a BA in Music Studies. She enjoyed several teaching jobs in her early adult years.
On November 6, 1954, she was united in marriage to Daniel Maher at St. Bridget’s Church in Solan, Iowa. They made their home together in St. Patrick’s Parish, Joliet, Illinois for 65 years. Loving mother of Teresa, Patrick (Donna), John (Dina), James (Ann), Kathleen (Thomas) Kenny, Christine (Pat) Mackey, David and great friend Laurita “Muff” Lukas. Loving grandmother of Michael, Annmarie (Anton), Joseph (Mandy), Brian (Emily), Kevin (Lauren), Thomas (Lisa), Margaret (William), Nora, Hannah, Rosemary, Jack (Hannah), Paige, Brooke, Danielle, Daniel, Mac, Maxwell, Benjamin, Cameron, Gianna, Tania, Kaitlin, Michael (Carly), and Tim. Adoring great grandmother of Elliana, Adelyn, Declan, Lylah, Misha, Sasha, Colin, Charlotte and Finnegan, Loving aunt to 22 nieces and nephews.
Mary was devoted to her Catholic faith. She could always be found at St. Patrick’s Church and School. She was a favorite substitute and volunteer music teacher at St. Pats. She created and directed plays and music events for students, catechism and confirmations. She also volunteered to coach girls’ basketball or softball teams whenever needed. While serving as president of the Council of Catholic Women in the 1960’s, she was instructed by the bishop to help integrate St. Pat’s School. She jumped in with both feet and a large Country Squire station wagon for carpooling. She was awarded Woman of the Year by the Joliet Diocese in 1969.
She later was employed in the parish administrative offices. But she may be most remembered for singing beautifully harmonized music in the St. Pat’s 10am choir mass for over 50 years. In the 70’s, she sang folk music by Ray Repp such as “To Be Alive”, “I am the Resurrection” and “Allelu”, and continued to sing her upbeat music until 2017. She played many instruments including piano and guitar and most any other instrument she picked up.
Mary and Dan walked in the footsteps of Jesus, meeting in college through their social justice efforts. They continued their life example by fighting for peace and justice in their adult lives, being co-founders in 1969 with the Hernandez and Adler families of the Spanish Community Center in Joliet and being leaders in the Christian Family Movement among many other organizations devoted to serving those in need. She and Dan acted as “foster parents” to people from all over the world including from Peru, Laos, Spain, Mexico and many people in Joliet who needed a helping hand.
Mary is best remembered by others as a great role model, being a kind and peaceful person. She will be missed by all who knew her.
In lieu of flowers, please be generous with donations to St. Patrick's Parish, Joliet and Friends of St. Bridget's Church, Solan, Iowa and the Spanish Community Center, Joliet. Please don’t stop at a donation. Be a kind role model too.
Visitation, Wednesday, June 22, 4:00-8:00pm, Blackburn-Giegerich-Sonntag Funeral Home, 1500 Black Road, Joliet. Mass of Christian Burial will be held, Thursday, June 23, 11:00 am, St. Patrick’s Church, 710 West Marion Street, Joliet. Inurnment at a later date at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, Illinois. A special thank you to all Mary’s Hospice workers.