Astrophysicist, devout Catholic
Ron Olowin dies at 72
Ron Olowin, the astrophysicist and longtime professor of science at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga died Aug. 5 following a yearlong illness, is being remembered for a career in which he inspired and helped many better understand the universe.
"He was an exemplar of a dedicated teacher in the Lasallian tradition, which focuses on the relationship between the teacher and the student," said James A. Donohue, Saint Mary's president, in announcing the death of the beloved faculty member.
Olowin, who began teaching at the college in 1987, was affectionately referred to as "Dr. O" by his students "for his legendary Introduction to Astronomy course, which he created upon arriving at Saint Mary's and continued to teach for 30 years," Donohue said.
The professor was instrumental in founding the Geissberger Observatory, with a 16-inch research telescope, near the cross on campus grounds.
A long-time member of St. Perpetua Parish in Lafayette, Olowin, served as a visiting professor and guest lecturer at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, teaching courses on cosmology and ecotheology. He was a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley and visiting scholar at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. He authored more than 40 articles for scientific and popular publications.
Survivors include his wife, Mary.
The funeral Mass was held Aug. 26 at St. Perpetua Church, Lafayette.
Sister Mary Paschal Elvin, PBVM
Sister Mary Paschal Elvin, a Sister of the Presentation for 88 years, died July 25 at the Presentation Motherhouse in San Francisco. She was 104.
Born in Vallejo, Sister Elvin (baptismal name Gertrude Eleanor) graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Latin from the San Francisco College for Women and a master's degree in education from the University of San Francisco.
In 1932 Sister Elvin began a teaching career that spanned 56 years. She taught grades five to eight in elementary schools in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Gilroy. In the Diocese of Oakland she was the eighth grade teacher at St. John the Baptist School in San Lorenzo from 1958 to 1963. For many years her former students from St. John included her in their reunions.
In 1963 Sister Elvin moved to San Jose where she taught at Presentation High School. From 1969 to 1977 she taught English at West Valley Community College.
After retiring from formal education, Sister Elvin continued to minister into her 80s and 90s at St. Christopher Parish in San Jose in a variety of roles including as a member of the RCIA staff and moderator of the Over 50 Club. In more recent years she was involved in volunteer services and the ministry of prayer at the Presentation Motherhouse.
She is survived by nephews, cousins and their families.
The funeral Mass was held Aug. 3 at the Presentation Motherhouse in San Francisco. Interment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Sharon Abercrome, a longtime former staff writer at The Catholic Voice, died Aug. 5 while recuperating from hip replacement surgery in Ohio. She was 78.
She worked at The Catholic Voice from 1992 to 2010. After leaving The Catholic Voice, she wrote an environmental spirituality column and blog called "Eco Catholic" for The National Catholic Reporter from 2011 until shortly before her death. She also wrote for Catholic San Francisco and the EarthLight magazine between 1999 and 2005. She served as religion editor and feature writer for the Columbus Citizen-Journal from 1969 to 1985, when it closed.
Abercrombie, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is survived by her son, William Alan Abercrombie.
A memorial service was held Aug. 12 at First Unitarian Church in Columbus, Ohio.
back to top