Obituary: Franciscan Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth

Franciscan Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth, 87, died March 31 at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at St. Francis Convent with burial in the convent cemetery. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent on Friday, May 6, from 4 to 8 p.m., with a Franciscan prayer service at 7 p.m., and from 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral on Saturday. Masks are required. Mass will be livestreamed on YouTube:

Mary Louise Eltgroth was born Sept. 10, 1934, in West Union to Louis and Emma (Rosonke) Eltgroth, the oldest of five children. She attended St. Francis High School in Little Falls, entering the Franciscan Community during her senior year. Upon entrance into the novitiate, she received the religious name of Sister Mary Justin. She made her final vows Aug. 12, 1958. Sister Mary Lou returned to her baptismal name in 1967. She was a Franciscan Sister for 68 years.

Sister Mary Lou became an elementary school teacher, receiving her bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She taught for almost 50 years in the Diocese of St. Cloud and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. Wherever she was, Sister Mary Lou’s ministry extended from the classroom into the parish and surrounding community.

On her retirement from teaching, she devoted her energies to ministries in the Little Falls area including the Clothes Review, teaching English to immigrants, reading to first graders at Lindbergh School and serving on various boards and committees. She also volunteered in various departments at the convent. In 2009 she received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her many years as volunteer with the Arts and Crafts Fair and the Paint-a-thon. Ministry with the Secular Franciscan Order began in 1997 and included several terms as Regional Spiritual Assistant.

Sister Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents and brother-in-law Karl Samuelson. Survivors include siblings: Nicholas (Nancy), Cohasset; Richard (Louise), Sauk Centre; Cecilia Samuelson, Kandiyohi; Rita, Sauk Centre; nieces and nephews; and her Franciscan Community.

Donations to Franciscan Sisters ministries preferred.


Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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