Guardian Angel Leaves Behind Legacy of Devotion

She’s known for her loving spirit and a kind smile that often trailed into a giggle. For her generosity and chocolate chip cookie recipe. For her devotion to the University of Saint Mary and the many students that occupied it.

The admirable qualities of Sister Madonna Fink, C’54, go on – as does her legacy.

Sr. Madonna, a retired USM reference librarian and a beloved superfan of Spires athletics, died on July 20 and was laid to rest on the campus she called “Holy Ground.” In the weeks that followed, memories of her life and the lessons she taught circulated throughout the campus community.

One teaching stood out among the rest: Love yourself and one another.

“Sister Madonna created a safe haven for our students, particularly our student-athletes,” USM President Sister Diane Steele said. “She provided a place for them to let down their guard, to share their fears and their dreams, to know they were loved unconditionally. What a gift. She is remembered at Saint Mary as the Spires’ No. 1 fan, as a woman who was faithful, loyal, and loved without judgment.”

Sister Madonna-cookies 2-bestDuring the academic year, Sr. Madonna kept an active social calendar. She attended every home athletic event and led teams in pre-game prayers. Her cookie recipe was also utilized frequently as she baked treats for student-athletes before road games.

While a quiet fan – cheering more through the twinkle in her eye than a shout – Sr. Madonna was still a prominent figure at sporting events.

“There were always a few things you could 100 percent count on in Ryan Sports Center – the smell of popcorn, the smell of gym sweat, loud whistles blowing, and Sr. Madonna’s smile and bigger than life presence,” former basketball player Tiffany Rodriguez, C’00, said. “Before every game, I would look into the stands just to find her and feel at peace when I did.”

While teams have missed her baked goods and kind words, Sr. Madonna’s mark remains. Her years of support and service earned her a place in the Saint Mary Athletics Hall of Fame. Teams will also continue to play on the Sister Madonna Fink Court in Ryan Sports Center, a space dedicated to her in 2005.

“It was so impactful for our student-athletes to have someone like Sister Madonna in their lives,” Vice President of Athletics Rob Miller said. “Her generosity was incredible. She helped shape Saint Mary Athletics into what it is today, and we are going to make sure her legacy lives on.”

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