Remembering Lynsey

Lynsey Brown, globe, and study materials collageSo often here at the Center we get caught up in the schedule and the hectic rush of tutors and students. We sometimes forget to give a heartfelt “Hello, how are you?” or we think we’ll check in next time/next week. This past week we lost a dear member of our extended family of learners and educators.

Lynsey Brown came to tutor twice a week for almost three years. She gave her time and she gave her knowledge of educating others to her students, to staff, and to other tutors. We often had our new tutors observe her teaching – we knew she did a stellar job and could give each new tutor-learner a good idea of how to make a real and lasting connection with their student. She had a smile that caused a reciprocal smile back, every time. Education staff heard her and her students laughing down the hall and knew learning was being done and that it was fun!

Every moment she spent here was cherished by her students, Hector and José. Hector told us this past week, “She taught me good things. We laugh a lot because I don’t know any friends—she was good American to talk to and a friend.”  Staff commented all week that she was giving, open, and truly a gem to have in our tutoring family.  Leeann remembered her as “kind, gentle, and filled with good intentions” and Katie remembered her as “a gifted teacher who was ready to help any student. Staff and students alike always seemed so comfortable in her presence.”

Lynsey asked her family to be sure Catherine McAuley Center received her furniture as donation for refugee and immigrant families as they begin new lives here in Eastern Iowa. Her kindness, thoughtfulness, and truly wonderful spirit will be greatly missed here at the Center. We know that the Center is now imbued with Lynsey’s energy of goodwill and her delightful laughter. She’s helped us to remember that the moment it takes to wish someone well, or check in with each other, can and should be taken—nothing is more important than the connections we continue to make with one another.

Anne and the CMC Education team

Remembering Sister Mary Cephas

Sr. M. Cephas WichmanIt is with sad hearts that we share with the Catherine McAuley Center community that board member Sister Mary Cephas Wichman passed away on May 6.

Sr. Cephas was a long-time supporter of the Catherine McAuley Center. She generously shared her time and talent and served in many roles at CMC. Her extensive service includes serving as Board President and on the Fundraising, Planned Giving, and Catherine’s Tea Event Planning committees. She was instrumental in creating an endowment for CMC and served on the Endowment Committee in addition to the Board of Directors.

Sr. Cephas was an integral part of the Catherine McAuley Center community and knew the names, faces and stories of many CMC donors and volunteers. Beyond lending her direction and guidance to the Center, she generously baked hundreds of the famous scones served at Catherine’s Tea each year.

Sr. Cephas was active throughout the entire Mercy community and served 25 years as the VP of Development and VP of Planned Giving at Mount Mercy University, as well as many hours at the Sacred Heart archives and front desk. She has also served in leadership roles at Mercy Medical Center, Mount Mercy University, Discovery Living, Girl Scouts, and Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center.

Sister Shari Sutherland, CMC board member and former Executive Director shared of Sister Cephas with Mount Mercy University, “Sister Cephas filled many lives with a friendly smile and good things to eat. She always had words of encouragement and was willing to be involved and help others be involved. I am so grateful for her wisdom, knowledge and guidance throughout my years in ministry.”

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Sr. Cephas’ friends, family, and fellow Sisters of Mercy. We are grateful to have known such a strong and giving woman and will miss her tremendously!

Remembering Sher and a Life Lived for Others


Sher with her CMC student, 2010

Sher with her CMC student, 2010

We celebrate the life of Sher Jasperse  tutor, grant writer, board/committee member of the Catherine McAuley Center for 20 years. Most importantly, we are incredibly blessed to have called her our friend. We miss her dearly, but her generous spirit remains alive here at CMC. Last year, Sher was honored with the Governor’s Volunteer Award, to which she said, “I’m humbled with this award as there are so many worthy volunteers at CMC”.

Her incredible gift for empathy is conveyed in this poem she penned about the Catherine McAuley Center in 2012.For the Catherine McAuley Center Through the vortex of violence, displacement and refugee camps, she waited long years with her children, unknowing, and came at last to this place. With no possible future, he hugged his parents and followed his cousins north across the border, riding for days in the back of a truck, unknowing, until he came to this place. Her sentence served and addictions at bay, she stepped out, hopeful, unknowing. “This time will be different,” she said, “if I can find my place.” The voices of students and tutors weave a cocoon of sanctuary on a forbidding December day. In this place, said the foundress, “Be sure to give them a cup of tea.” Teach. Shelter. Transform.

It was Sher’s gift of words conveyed through numerous grants and articles that helped the us be where we are today. Her open, embracing nature created an extensive network of friends. “Sher is so open and loving and has faith in the good in people–all people. The way she talked to them, looked at them; she is so accepting of everybody. That is what made her who she is,” says former CMC staff member and friend, Amelia Waddle.

Sher, you carried out the Catherine McAuley Center mission in so many ways, and you touched our lives and the lives of so many. Thank you for giving so much of yourself and showing us the way to live our lives for others. 

Please click on the following links to learn more about Sher’s amazing life, her dedication to our community and the ways she shared so freely of her time, her gifts, and her love.

“All About Giving”– The Gazette

In Her Own Words– Obituary, The Gazette

“Sher Joins Heavenly Writing Team Now”– Metro Sports Report