IHM president Sr. Mary Frances Gilleran dies at 67

Monroe – Sr. Mary Frances Gilleran, president of the IHM congregation since 2006, died Saturday at the IHM Motherhouse in Monroe. She was 67 and had been under the care of the IHM Health Care Center staff and Mercy Memorial Hospice.

Visitation will take place on Sunday, July 10, from 2 to 8 p.m. with a Remembering service at 6:30 p.m. at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel (610 W. Elm Ave. in Monroe). The funeral liturgy will be held Monday, July 11, at 11 a.m. in the Chapel. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Rupp Funeral Home, Monroe (734) 421-9300.

Sr. Gilleran was one of seven children, four boys and three girls, of George and Kathleen (Brunett) Gilleran. She was born April 23, 1944 in Detroit and given the name Mary Frances. She attended St. Matthew Elementary School and Dominican High School in Detroit and became a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe in 1963, taking the religious name of Sr. Kathleen Thomas.

Sr. Gilleran earned a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College, a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit and a master’s degree in conflict management and organizational change from Antioch University, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Prior to serving as IHM president, she taught elementary school at St. Frederick, Pontiac, and St. Columban, Birmingham. She spent more than 40 years in pastoral work, ministering at St. Columban Parish, Glenwood United Church of Christ in Windsor, Ontario, as supervisor of ministry training and associate in lay ministry. Following a year as coordinator of IHM Visitation House of Prayer in Monroe, Sr. Gilleran became chaplain and adult education teacher at Madonna Villa in Fraser. She spent five years teaching those in the deacon preparation program at Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit.

Sr. Gilleran co-founded and ministered with the Women’s Sources and Resources Center and in the IHM Office of Life Planning, served as a provincial for the Northeast Province of the IHM congregation and worked with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. She spent eight years working with organizational change, facilitation and conflict management and worked with a variety of religious communities and organizations in the United States and Canada. Sr. Gilleran was elected president of the IHM congregation in 2006. She held this position while residing in the Health Care Center and until her death.

This past May, Sr. Gilleran received the “Thomas J. Gumbleton Award” from the Elephants in the Living Room organization in Detroit for exceptional service, courage and dedication to Gospel values and to the Catholic Church. In accepting this award, Sr. Gilleran said, “We have been delighted to support and partner with the Elephants to keep the spirit of dialogue, inquiry, scholarship and community-building alive in this (Vatican II) Church… We share with all others a vision for a mature Catholic Church that addresses the deeper questions and profound longings that our faith invites us to welcome.”

She is survived by her sisters, Regina Butler and Helen Roach (Kenneth), her brothers, Gerald, James (Ann), Paul (Carol) and Thomas (Judy) Gilleran, as well as 24 nieces and nephews, 48 grand-nieces and nephews and her sisters in the IHM community.

Memorials in Sr. Gilleran’s honor may be made to the IHM Ministry Fund, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162-7909.