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Pauline Laura Elizabeth Block

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DADE CITY, FLA. Sister Pauline Block (Laura Elizabeth) of St. Leo, Fla. took her peaceful final journey to her heavenly home on Nov. 14, 2013. She was born on the Bernard Matthiesen home place in Runnels County, Olfen, Texas on Jan. 28, 1915. Laura, the oldest of six, was often given the job of watching her younger brothers and sisters. Stories about riding a donkey, caretaking her little brothers, feeding cows, and the new Model T Ford car are all part of her history. Attending Olfen Catholic School until the age of 15, she traveled to St. Leo, Fla. to join the Benedictine Sisters. Laura's life was greatly influenced by the Benedictine Sisters of Olfen School. She liked the way their life was devoted to community, family, and unity. Because of this influence, she was one of five girls of the Olfen community that decided to join the Order of Benedictine Sisters of Florida. On July 30, 1930, age 15, Laura boarded a train "the peanut pusher" at the station in Rowena, Texas, to begin her life as a Florida Benedictine Sister. At the convent, Laura continued her education. During her Novitiate Laura changed her name to Sister Pauline Block. She made her Final Vows on June 13, 1936. She said "It was a beautiful ceremony with a real commitment to Christ for life." She continued her education at Sacred Heart College in Cullman, Alabama, and Saint Leo University. Gifted with the ability to reach small children, her focus during her 58 year teaching career (1934 to 1992) was in elementary education, specializing in reading at the primary level. Sister was committed to ensuring that every child she taught could read. Sister provided little ones with a firm grounding in the basics at parochial schools in New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana, Ocala, San Antonio, Sarasota and Miami Florida. She also served as Assistant Director of St. Benedict Prep School for boys. Former students who have become successful lawyers, doctors and school principals say they never forgot their grade school teacher... "She was tough!" Sister also prepared children for their First Communion and taught catechism at the Diocesan Summer Camp Good Council. Sister Pauline graciously undertook any task that she was assigned. For years she was the Sisters champion coif-maker (the Sisters headdress) and was also assigned to helped cook in the kitchen at the Priory. The clothing worn by Sister Pauline changed with the times. She started by wearing the black veil and habit. In the early 60's the habits changed to a black uniform with a partial veil covering the back of the hair. Gradually it went from the uniform with veil, to a suit and no veil, to a jumper and finally to regular clothes. Sister Pauline has loved doing many arts and crafts. She crocheted many blankets, doilies, dolls, and angel dolls. She quilted all types of fabrics into quilts and assortments of decorator items such as pillows and bedspreads. Sister Pauline's devotion to children continued right up to a week before her death. She enthusiastically embraced the Girls Around the World project this past year, making adorable dresses out of pillow cases for Haitian and African girls living in orphanages. Sister loved her sewing machine even though she had an ongoing trial with the bobbin. Her tiny room was always filled with sewing projects, patterns and needlework supplies. After her retirement and until the last days of her life, she diligently made hand-crafted items to sell in the gift shop at the Monastery. It was her way to contribute to her religious community. In the late 1980's and early 1990's Sister Pauline helped to earn money for the convent by being a caretaker of an elderly lady. She always wanted to be productive was excited to contribute to the building fund for the new Holy Name Monastery. The years passed and soon the "Olfen Sisters" were honored for their 80th Anniversary of monastic life by the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Bishop Lynch pointed out the fact that the Church has special names for the celebration years of Jubilarians, but they could not find a name to designate the 80th Anniversary of service by a religious. Of the five, only one cousin and constant companion, Sister Helen Lange, still lives and resides at the Monastery. All her nieces and nephews can possibly say that their first religious medals, rosaries and prayer cards came from Sister Pauline. She gave what little she did have with such a generous heart. Sister Pauline was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the twinkle in her eyes only gave a hint to the spunk and zest she had for life. Sister Pauline was preceded in death by her parents, Paul J. Block and Hattie Matthiesen Block; her brother, Wilbert Block; brothers-in-law Weldon Kocich and Howard Gray; sisters-in-law Carmen Block and Sue Block; nephew Dennis Gray; and niece Melinda Block Naugle. She is survived by her sisters, Gladys Gray of Chula Vista, California, Frances Kocich of Wall, Texas; her brothers, Andrew Block of San Angelo, Texas and James Block and wife Lillian of Olfen, Texas; numerous nieces, nephews; and a host of first cousins of the Bernard and Elizabeth Matthiesen Family. Her Celebration of Life will begin with a Vigil at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, with the Mass of the Resurrection at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 18, in the Holy Name Monastery Chapel. Arrangements are with Hodges Family Funeral Home, Dade City, Florida. Memorials may be made to: Building Fund - Holy Name Monastery Special Gifts Campaign, P.O. Box 2450 St. Leo, Florida 33574-2450.

Published in GoSanAngelo from Nov. 17 to Nov. 18, 2013
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