Irene Cecelia Hoelle was born on December 10, 1919, in Wilmington, Delaware. She was the youngest child of Clara and Charles Hoelle, and younger sister of her brother Charles and her sister Marian Seltzer, all of whom preceded her into heaven. She died in Valparaiso, Indiana on August 23, 2019, just three months shy of her 100th birthday.
During the Great Depression, Irene left her studies to work several jobs to support herself. In 1946, after World War II ended, she worked with a physician who had returned from the war. Throughout these years she continued to go to daily Mass and to seek God's will for her life. She had devotion to the Blessed Mother and was particularly fond of an image of our Lady - a Hummel - in the office where she worked. She would frequently ask our Lady "to help me find what God wants from me." She also read many spiritual books and discovered The Way, a book of short spiritual reflections by St. Josemaria Escrivia, the founder of Opus Dei. in 1953, she learned more about Opus Dei through a newspaper article. Soon afterwards, she wrote to Fr. Joseph Musquiz, a priest of Opus Dei, and met with him in 1955. Since she was in Delaware at the time, she then travelled to meet the women in Opus Dei in Boston, and she joined Opus Dei soon after, on August 25, 1955.
After spending nine months close to the founder of Opus Dei in Rome, Italy, Irene returned to the United States to work professionally in the development of Opus Dei in the Midwest. She was particularly instrumental in the founding of the Willows Academy and Shelbourne Conference Center. Irene was an optimistic and determined woman in everything she did. She was known for her faithfulness to her vocation and for her concern for the formation of those in her care.
Visitation will be held Friday, August 23, 2019, 5:00pm to Saturday, August 24, 2019, 5:00pm at Shelbourne Conference Center in Valparaiso as well as from 10:00-11:00am on Monday, August 26 at St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church, 1850 N. Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622. The Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:00am at St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church. Burial will be in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois, 60648.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Irene's memory may be made to CSED, 6321 N. Avondale Ave., Chicago, IL, 60631 or through the CSED website www.csedmidwest.org.