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A Butterfly Spreads Her Wings

Posted July 12, 2022 in Obituaries

Remembering Sister Miriam Fidelis Pinchot

Anointed by the Spirit of God through the beloved hands of her pastor, Sister Miriam Fidelis gently spread her wings and entered into the great mystery of divine love, leaving us stunned and breathless yesterday, July 11th.  Can’t you just hear her gently but firmly reminding us to breathe and to fall into the endless embrace of that very same God?  Though her illness was brief and her death a shock to us all, she leaves us a legacy of profound faith, deep appreciation of the beauty of all God’s creation, eager service and boundless creativity.

Judith Ann Pinchot was born in Shamrock, Pennsylvania eighty years ago to Mary Jane (nee Vernasky) and Joseph.  She grew up in Euclid, Ohio and counted among her siblings: Diane, Dolores, Kenneth, Joseph and Mary Elizabeth. In 1959 she entered the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland from St. Robert Parish in Euclid, followed a few years later by her sister, Diane. She studied at Ursuline College and St. John College, earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.

Professed as Sister Miriam Fidelis, her ministries were varied, showcasing her many gifts and her deep longing to be of service.  She was a teacher and loved her young students at St. Charles, Immaculate Conception (Willoughby), Holy Cross, St. Timothy, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Joseph(Avon Lake) and St. Ann. Blossoming into pastoral care, Sister Miriam Fidelis also served at the Martin de Porres Center and the West Side Catholic Center as well as Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Augustine Parish. 

Life has a way of delivering the unexpected and yet treasured.  For a time Sister Miriam Fidelis served in Disabilities Ministry and then moved to Brownsville, Texas where she expanded her horizons in working with parishioners there and in helping to found an orphanage in Matamoros, Mexico.  How she loved introducing the women to St. Angela and companioning them on their faith journey! Once Sister Miriam Fidelis returned to the Cleveland area, she also served in pastoral ministry at St. Angela Merici Parish and St. Michael the Archangel Parish while offering spiritual direction at the Jesuit Retreat Center. Finally, at the time of her death, Sister was still actively engaged at Our Lady of Peace Parish.

Just as a butterfly often shows brilliant colors and is a great pollinator of the flowers we love to enjoy, Sister Miriam Fidelis had many shining qualities.  A former pastor described her as, “an excellent communicator and expert catechist.”  She was also known for her “true missionary heart” which drew parishioners and community members into the heart of the Church. Sister Miriam Fidelis was also creative and resourceful, whether in writing a grant or developing ambiance at work or home that gave joy to others. Her generosity was boundless, whether asking the congregation to consider the needs of others she encountered or offering her own services – often the first to volunteer for a funeral need.  Whatever she did, it was with a glad and open heart.

Sister Miriam Fidelis was on a retreat when she suddenly fell ill.  Leaving the retreat left her disappointed and longing for fulfillment as the butterfly she so admired.  Graciously, her sister, Sister Diane Therese, shared with her that she was, indeed, bursting forth but in a way she hadn’t planned.  Imagine her great delight and awe when the earthly cocoon she was in fell away and she stood transformed in the eternal presence of Divine Love!

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Kenneth and sister Mary Elizabeth. She is survived by her siblings: Sister Diane Therese, Dolores and Joseph, as well as a niece, nephew and great niece.

A memorial mass will be held on July 28, 2022 at 10:00 AM at Our Lady of Peace church, 12601 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland 44120.

Memorial donations may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland:  https://www.ursulinesisters.org/  Arrangements by DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott

May we continue now to pray with joy that Sister Miriam Fidelis is free to fly in God’s presence, even amidst our shock and sorrow.