Marion Kaple, Cojourner
Marion Helena Keeler Kaple was born on November 9, 1939, in Watertown, South Dakota, the only child of Aleta and Charles Keeler. Her father was of Irish descent and her mother of Norwegian descent. She fondly remembered her Rochester Franciscan teachers, Sister Benjamin and Sister Illuminata, and decided to join the Rochester Franciscan Community. She arrived at Assisi Heights to become a postulant on January 26, 1958. She was given the name Sister Charlot and her classmates called her “Squeaky,” as in “pipsqueak” maybe. She was among the youngest of her convent class. After first vows, Marion was “missioned” to the Juniorate at the College of Saint Teresa (CST), where she finished her undergraduate studies and then was assigned to high school teaching. She taught in Sleepy Eye and Winona, Minnesota, and in Portsmouth, Ohio.
The Summer of Renewal, in 1967, found her at CST again. Our “Squeaky” had become a strong and thoughtful voice as the Rochester Franciscans struggled to evolve in the spirit of Vatican II. For example, she and a small group of other sisters proposed a pilot program in “intentional communities.” Shortly afterward, she discerned that religious life, in the form it was taking then, was no longer her calling and she left the Community in 1968. In Marion’s own words, “Even though I was leaving the formal Community, I knew that I would always carry the Franciscan imprint of those formative years with me throughout my life.”
She embarked on new callings in Georgia, where she belonged to a small ecumenical community involved in civil rights, peace, and social justice issues and was active in Called to Action. There she met her future husband, Don Kaple, a former Glenmary priest. They married in 1969. She embarked on new callings in Georgia, where she belonged to a small ecumenical community involved in civil rights, peace, and social justice issues and was active in Called to Action. There she met her future husband, Don Kaple, a former Glenmary priest. They married in 1969. In addition to her teaching career, Marion volunteered in a Literacy program that her husband initiated. She and Don lived in many locations over the years. They also made a second home in the North Carolina mountains, a kind of retreat house for spiritual seekers called Jonah’s House.
Their union was a new experiment in intentional community, for both Don and Marion lived dedicated spiritual lives which eventually led to a commitment to Cojourning with the Rochester Franciscans. Marion made her first covenant on October 13, 2002, and eventually became Emeritus status on November 13, 2019. Don made his covenant on May 31, 2009. Marian took leadership roles as Cojourning defined itself and was a member of the first Cojourner Advisory Council in 2007. Marion became a local leader in centering prayer in Atlanta, her most recent home. She was a devoted partner to Don, a devoted parent and grandparent, and a devoted daughter to her mother, who lived with Marion’s family in the last decades of her long life.
Marion is survived by her son, Daniel Keeler Kaple (Franya); son-in-law, Frank Hummel and grandchildren Anna Hummel, Claire Hummel and Colton Kaple. She is predeceased by her loving husband, Don Kaple, who died November 28, 2017, and her dear daughter Katie Kaple Hummel, who passed away on September 26, 2022.
Marion’s greatest joy was sharing life with her grandchildren. And she experienced the deep grief in losing her husband and her daughter. Marion’s friends hope and trust that her sudden death was, as a convent classmate wrote, “joyful for her but sad for us,” bringing her to joyful reunion with Don and Katie.
A funeral liturgy for Marion will be celebrated on Friday, January 20th at 10:00 am ET (9:00 am CST) at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Contributions by Sister Rosemary Zemler & Cojourners Rosemary Grebin Palms and Kathy Johnson
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