Sr. Hocum worked for space program


CLINTON — Sister Mary Paschal Hocum, OSF, a former mathematician for a space program and a teacher as a religious sister, died Feb. 10 at The Alverno.

She was born Feb. 5, 1930, in Minneapolis to George Allen and Helen Catherine (Daggett) Hocum. She was baptized Mary Louise.

Sr. Hocum

She attended five elementary schools in California and graduated from Ramona Convent High School in Alhambra, California. She obtained a BA in mathematics and English from the College of Holy Names in Oakland, California. Before coming to Clinton, she was employed as a mathematician in the space program at Aerojet-General Corporation in California.

She joined the Sisters of St. Francis at Mount St. Clare Convent in Clinton on Oct. 4, 1958, and received the name Mary Paschal at her reception on June 15, 1959. She made first profession of vows on Aug. 12, 1961, and final profession on Aug. 12, 1964.


Sister Paschal began her ministry as a math instructor at Mount St. Clare College and Academy in Clinton. During the next 17 years, besides spending one year teaching math and science at St. Justin the Martyr School in St. Louis, she alternately served as head of the Mount St. Clare College math department and pursued further education.

She earned two master’s degrees — a Master of Arts in math from the University of Detroit in 1964, and a Master of theological studies from Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California, in 1982. She received National Science Foundation grants at universities in Milwaukee; Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado; and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She was a recipient of the Shell Merit Fellowship at Stanford University as well as the Carnegie-Mellon grant for mathematical studies at the University of Iowa. She also completed a spiritual direction certificate program at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California.

After graduation from the Franciscan School of Theology, she spent one year teaching math at St. Anthony Seminary in Santa Barbara, California, followed by two years as pastoral associate at St. Paul Parish in Macomb, Illinois, and as a part-time mathematics faculty member at Western Illinois University there.

In 1985, she was invited to return to the Franciscan School of Theology where she served for 19 years, primarily as registrar. She initiated the first spiritual formation program for lay students in 2000 and became director of spiritual formation. After retiring from her full-time position in 2002, she remained another two years as director of alumni affairs, spiritual director and assistant to the registrar.

She returned to Clinton and served as vice-president of the Sisters of St. Francis from 2004 to 2008 and as administrator of The Canticle for three years. She moved to The Alverno in 2021.

A private Mass will be held at The Canticle. Burial will be in St. Irenaeus Calvary Cemetery.

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