Dominican Sister of Peace Camilla (Leonita) Smith, 98, died at Mohun Health Care Center on May 6, 2019. Born in Akron, OH, in 1921, her mother Frances Gossman and father Daniel Smith raised her in Somerset, OH – the cradle of Dominican life in Ohio. Inspired by the Sisters who taught at her schools, she entered religious life in 1939 and took her final vows in 1944.
Sr. Camilla earned a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics from Ohio Dominican University and a Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in Home Economics from Ohio State University.
She saw a strong relationship between Catholic philosophy and the teaching of Home Economics, believing that a solid grounding in the discipline would help students to “learn how to manage well their personal and family resources… as stepping stones to sanctity.”
Sr. Camilla taught Home Economics and French at grade schools and high schools across Ohio before returning to Ohio Dominican University as the Chair of the Department of Home Economics, Dean of Residence, and Manager of the University’s Hamilton Hall Dining Room.
As superior at Mohun Hall, the Congregation’s health care facility for consecrated religious in Columbus, OH, Sr. Camilla combined her management skills and her loving nature to help create a place of care and compassion for her Sisters.
Having earned her Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Providence College in 1981, Sr. Camilla was well prepared to move into her next ministry as the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Grove City, OH. She was also active in the ecumenical Cum Christo retreat movement.
In 1992, as a response to the Congregation’s commitment to honor creation, Sr. Camilla joined with Sisters Loretta Forquer and Jane Belanger to found Shepherd’s Corner, an ecological ministry located on Congregation-owned land in Blacklick, OH. Sr. Camilla considered this ministry the most rewarding of her religious life, saying “offers the land as a pulpit for preaching, and reflects God’s presence everywhere.”
In her homily for Camilla, Sr. Jane Belanger referred to Sr. Camilla’s chosen reading from the book of Revelations, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race,” when talking about Sr. Camilla’s many ministries. “With her family, in the college dorm, with the residents of Mohun, with parishioners in Grove City, with the Associates, with all of Creation at Shepherd’s Corner,” Sr. Jane said, “Camilla made a point to provide a home for folks wherever she was.”
After she was no longer able to serve at Shepherd’s Corner, Sr. Camilla returned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help to as a volunteer before entering a ministry of prayer and presence at the Columbus Motherhouse and later, Mohun Healthcare Canter.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Daniel and Frances Gossman Smith, her sisters, Marie Smith, Eleanor Schmeltzer, Rose Marie Paumier, Agnes Hupp, Mildred Hassser and her brothers, Philip and Daniel. She is survived by her sister Mary Frances Pitstick, her brother, Harry Smith, nieces and nephews.
A Vigil of Remembrance Service was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel, Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The funeral liturgy was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel on Friday, May 17, followed by burial at St. Joseph Cemetery.
Memorial gifts in Sr. Camilla’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr. Columbus, OH 43219 or oppeace.org.