What happens when a sister falls in love with a mobster?
How I discovered the mobster who loved one of my Dominican Sisters.
About two years ago I was summoned to Sister M. Pauletta Overbeck's room. She handed me a home-recorded DVD in a ratty brown envelope and asked that I help her watch the contents one last time and then—rather dramatically—ordered me to destroy it!
The DVD contained an interview with infamous Chicago mobster-turned-government-informant Bill Jahoda. As we watched, Sister Pauletta with tears in her eyes, declared her love for the heavily disguised, voice-altered ex-criminal at least 30 years her junior.
For Valentine's Day, two of Sister Pauletta's most faithful friends, Chicago journalists Carol Marin and Don Mosely, shared the story of their connection with the sister and the mobster in a delightful Chicago Sun-Times column. (For the record, it was Carol's interview with Jahoda on the top-secret DVD—not destroyed but now stored safely in our archive.)
Not long after Carol and Don's story appeared, I had a call from John Rice, a journalist at the Forest Park Review who was anxious for an interview with Sister Pauletta because Jahoda was a Forest Park native.
Alas. Sister Pauletta died just weeks earlier, a few months shy of her 104th birthday.
This did not stop John from pursing the story. His take on this fascinating episode in Sister Pauletta's life is chronicled in two columns in the Forest Park Review, found here and here.
It's worth recalling this unusual constellation of relationships during National Catholic Sisters Week. Scratch the surface of history and you'll likely uncover a Catholic Sister there. Frequently on the periphery, often in the middle of history-making events, always holding the travails of the world in their consciousness and prayer, all Catholic sisters' vocation, what we are vowed to do, is love deeply and broadly. That's what we celebrate this week.
Tell us a story
Do you have a story to share about how one of our sisters changed your life for the good? Please do tell! By sharing your story you honor the lives of our sisters, bring inspiration and joy to others, and help us spread the word about the value of a religious vocation.
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About the photo
Sister Pauletta at her 103rd birthday party in Regina Coeli, the skilled care facility at Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill.