October 21, 1935 – December 24, 2019
Suzanne was an artist, a musician, a writer and director of plays, a leader, a person of great faith and faithfulness. Born in Minnesota, Suzanne and her strong Catholic family moved to Watsonville, where she attended Moreland Notre Dame High School. At 17, she entered the Notre Dame de Namur Novitiate, and for thirty years as a Sister, was a creative teacher in elementary and secondary schools in California.
For 26 years, Suzanne served as a pastoral associate at St. Kevin Church in San Francisco, where she, Father Jim O’Malley and other priests and lay people were blessed to live on the cutting edge of church history, helping to translate Vatican II spirituality into all aspects of parish life.
The Graduate School of Theology program in Berkeley that she attended in the 70s, was a joy and a blessing, integrating as it did, classroom study with regular input and participation of parishioners; she referred to this lived experience of faith in a diverse yet unified community as a miracle!
Suzanne loved living by Cortland Avenue in San Francisco, being part of a vibrant community at St. Kevin’s, leading the choir at St. Thomas More Church, preparing candidates for the sacraments, teaching piano, enjoying symphonies and plays with friends, walking Sunshine, her well-loved dachshund, and meeting people in the neighborhood.
Dan Rosen, a former Deacon at St. Kevin, described Suzanne as “the spiritual Pigeon Point lighthouse . . . She was the light for so many. You came to believe you had a part to play in the mission of the church, in the building of a community of believers. You were part of something bigger when you walked in her light.”
Catalino Echiverri, Chairman of the Parish Council and in Suzanne’s first First Communion class said, “When the legend of Suzanne Hockel is recounted generations from now, she will be remembered for doing what she could to bring those who fell into her orbit stronger in faith and closer to God.”
At her 80th birthday party, Suzanne summed up a few of her life-learnings: “The life plan is God’s, not mine. There are many ways to live life. There is much goodness in people. There will always be a way through. Prayer is always a call forward.”
With little warning, Suzanne died of pneumonia on Christmas Eve, but her light and her spirit will live on in all she has touched. She will be greatly missed by her family, by the St. Kevin Parish community, by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and by all those whose lives she enriched.
Her life will be celebrated at a 7:00 p.m. Vigil at St. Kevin Church on Friday, January 24, and at the 10:30 Mass there on Saturday, January 25.