At 102, Maybe It’s Time She Mended Her Ways

Edwina for web
Sr. Edwina Devlin, OP

CBS News Reports that the number of Americans living beyond 100 is increasing

Getting ready to celebrate being 102 years old might not be that big a deal to some people, after all, according to CBS News, the number of Americans living beyond their 100th birthday has been climbing steadily over the last 15 years.

But when you hear the story of Dominican Sister of Peace Edwina Devlin, OP, you wonder how she remains so vibrant and energized as she approaches the 102 mark. Even though she is legally blind, Sr. Edwina takes regular walks down the hall to visit other residents, using a walker that happened to be outside her room one day when she was feeling a little wobbly.

Independence led to long life

Sr. Edwina attributes her long life to living independently. “I have always been very independent; maybe it is time to mend my ways,” she said with a bit of a grin. Being legally blind does not stop her from enjoying music and books. Three times a week someone reads aloud to her for an hour. She is currently enjoying a book of anecdotes about Irish immigrants to Ohio.

“Whatever God wants, I want”

What’s her approach to life? “Whatever God wants, I want,” said Sr. Edwina. “I have always put my trust in the Lord, and I am always happy. I don’t mind staying alive. I have this wonderful relationship with God. First thing in the morning, while I am still in bed, I look at the cross, and then I start my day.”

She plans to celebrate on September 18 with other residents where she resides at Mohun Health Care Center, a skilled nursing facility in Columbus, OH, sponsored by her congregation.

Growing up with extended family

Her life story begins in Yakima, Washington, where she was born in 1914. World War I was raging in Europe, Pope Benedict XV was in the Vatican, and a gallon of gas cost 12 cents. Her parents had moved to Yakima from Steubenville, Ohio, so her father could find work. Her mother died when Evelyn was only two. Her three older siblings were placed in boarding schools, but her father needed care for his youngest child. She lived with a neighbor for three years. Her grandparents brought her back to Ohio when she was five.

Sr. Edwina’s Daily Prayer Life

Reflecting on her prayer life, Sr. Edwina smiled. “My favorite way to pray is just to be quiet and let thoughts come and go. The distractions I brush away. I love to pray the Rosary, too. Eucharist and the daily Scripture readings are important. We have a wonderful chaplain here, and I enjoy his homilies.”

On her 18th birthday she entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs (now the Dominican Sisters of Peace) in Columbus, OH.

Learning on the Job

Sr. Edwina earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of St. Mary of the Springs (now Ohio Dominican University) and a Master of Arts in English from Hunter College, NY. During her teaching career, which began well before she earned her first degree, she taught every elementary school grade except eighth.

Sr. Edwina and Paulette for web“I was totally surprised when I was sent to Braddock, PA, to teach high school English, biology, algebra and geometry!” Sr. Edwina recalled. “English, yes. But I hadn’t even had a course in biology and only the basics in algebra and geometry. Sr. Hilary told me to go to the fish store and buy guppies and she would show me how to use them to teach the reproductive system. It worked somehow.”

After teaching for 20 years, Sr. Edwina volunteered for the mission that was being opened in Peru. She quickly found that she had no ear for languages so, creatively, she taught English to adults who wanted to learn it. Among her students were doctors, nurses, professors and other professionals, for whom English was an asset.

Still resourceful and independent at 102 years, Sr. Edwina does not need to change her ways anytime soon. She’s doing just fine.

Posted in News

20 responses to “At 102, Maybe It’s Time She Mended Her Ways

  1. I enjoyed reading your article immensely! When I tell friends and family that my fourth and sixth grade teacher from the late 1930’s at St. Aloysius in Wilmerding, PA, is alive and well and corresponds with me at Christmas, they think I’m pulling their legs! The thing I most remember about the Dominicans was running down from our house on Welsh Ave. to deliver bread and rolls my mother baked for you all. Wishing you a happy belated birthday!

  2. Hi Sr. Edwina. I am late on getting birthday greetings to you. I hope to catch up with you very soon. You have been a great mentor and prayer warrior for Vic & I ever since we met in the 1970’s at St. Thomas Aquinas, Zanesville, Ohio. We loved you then and still today. May God continue to bless you and all who come into your presence. Xo Rosanna

  3. Peace and blessings on you, dear Sr. Edwina.
    I am a King Williams Townsends Dominican and had the Privilege to attend a Dominican Retreat with American Dominicans from various Congregations- also some Peace Dominicans.
    May you Continue being and bringing light to others.
    Have a happy 10 +2birthday,!

  4. By the time I got to Peru, you were long gone, but the memories of your valor in the earthquake and many other stories about you were still being told! Many more very happy birthdays!

  5. My dear Sister Edwina,
    What a blessing you have always been in my life, starting in Geometry class where I thought you were a PhD in Math! Love, Loretta

  6. Sr. You taught many of us at st. Mary’s high school in New Haven, ct. Class of 1950. I am an associate. God bless you and your lookout on life. Cecelia Bunny Cassidy O’Brien

  7. Happy 102, Edwina!! I remember many happy days you brought to us at St George when you were a “summer sister” Always a bright light to both patients and their nurses.Keep up spreading JOY!

  8. Edwina, what a beautiful blessing God has giving us with having you in our lives as Dominican Sisters of Peace. This is a lovely picture of you and you do not look like 102 years has passed. May our gracious God continue to bless you abundantly till the end of your days.

  9. Congratulation, Edwina, great example for those of us who are coming behind you!!

    Have a wonderful celebration! Happy Birthday!

  10. Sr. Edwina, you are an inspiration to all Associates by the very way you have lived your life. I doubt that any of us think you need to “mend your ways”. Please continue to show us how to be peace, live peace, preach peace in ways only you know how.

    Peace, love and prayers ~
    Jackie Paluszak, OPA

  11. Please continue as your, Sister Edwina. God has
    given you such wonderful gifts which you share
    With all of us. We look forward to another year
    joy with you.

  12. Dear Sr. Edwina, you are so loved & admired. I am a better person for having known you. Happy Birthday. You are awesome.
    Kathleen Savitscus

  13. Sr. Edwina, You are a beautiful inspiration always spreading love through actions!! We are all so blessed to call you friend and sister. Happy Birthday!! Peace and Love, Carol Moss

  14. Happy, happy birthday Sister Edwina! May your day be as special as you are to all of your Dominican family. No need to change your ways, they have worked well for you for 102 years.
    Blessings, peace, and love,
    Jennifer

  15. What a great tribute! Sr. Edwina welcomed me to Peru on my first visit so many years ago and the people of Chimbote are still speaking of her with affection. Happy 102 years and God bless you, Edwina; Peace. Germaine

  16. Edwina, I had the privilege of living with you in Marietta and it was a wonderful experience as I remember it. We had fun and enjoyed doing the Lord’s work with the children.
    Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy life. The dear Lord is not ready to see you yet. He wants you to share your life with us. God bless you.
    Love,
    Barbara

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