Mary Joanne Dunn Wuenschel

Mary Joanne Dunn Wuenschel was born March 24, 1930 to Anne and Jimmy Dunn in Swissvale, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). Mary Jo attended St. Anselm’s Catholic Grade school and Swissvale High School where she was very active. She wrote for the high school newsletter and was a majorette in the marching band. Mary Jo was Valedictorian of her graduating class of 1948 and received a full academic scholarship to Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University in Pittsburgh) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics. Mary Jo received the Award of Outstanding Student in her department in her college class of 1952. She also received a Master’s Degree in religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas in 1977.

Mary Jo interned as a dietitian at Shadyside Hospital and worked as a registered dietitian at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh where she taught student nurses nutrition and diet therapy. She met her husband, Cyril Wuenschel, now deceased, during a musical operetta presented by St. Francis School of Nursing and they were married in 1955.

In 1963, Mary Jo, Cyril, and their 6 children left the Pittsburgh area and headed west to the Institute of Lay Theology at the University of San Francisco, where Cyril had been accepted as a graduate student to be trained as a lay theologian for the Catholic Church. This was a program designed specifically for men but as the wife of a student, Mary Jo could also receive the training, which she did. On completion of the training, they were assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Salinas, California, where they participated in the Pastoral and Directed Catechetical programs. During the next 10 to 12 years Mary Jo worked in Catholic Parishes in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Florida.

In 1975 Mary Jo was hired by the Diocese (now Arch Diocese) of Galveston-Houston where she worked as the Associate Director of the Diocesan Office of Continuing Christian Education for 13 ½ years. She was editor of the Diocesan Religious Education newsletter, Resoundings.

Mary Jo and Cy had 7 children Mary Anne & (Ralph Ehntholt) & Joseph [deceased] (twins), John,(and Kim), Peter (and Debbie) & Mark (and Mary Beth) (twins), Paul (and Juanita),  Tom (and Betty Jo). They had 15 Grandchildren: Isaiah & Christina Ehntholt [Twins], Elizabeth, and Justin Ehntholt, Amanda and Chris Wuenschel, Jeremiah, Dr. Diedra Wuenschel, Erica, Matthew Wuenschel. Peter, Faith , David wuenschel, Julia and Joan Wuenschel. They had 17 Great Grandchildren: Amber Browne, Ryan & Jeremy Browne [Twins], Gunnar, Colin, Ruby and Anna Ehntholt. Kylie Jo and Colton Caraway, Lieben and Carwyn Wuenschel, Mia, Luna and Ezekiel Mora, Colton, and Lucas Wuenschel and Reese Wuenschel.

Mary Jo believed in and lived a nonviolent lifestyle full of hope. She was a member of Southern Poverty Law Center and former member of Pax Christi and was active giving talks on Peace, Family and “Women Working for the Church” and was very inclusive in her speaking and writing. Mary Jo was also the Manager of The Singing Wuenschels, her family music group, made up of her children Mary Anne, John, Peter & Mark, Paul and Tom, and her husband Cy Wuenschel. They performed at retreats, conferences and at other public gatherings throughout the US and Canada.

In her retirement Mary Jo took up drumming, line dancing, edited a newsletter for The Villages of Town Lake in Pearland, Texas. Mary Jo taught line dancing and started a drum circle at Attiva Pearland and played drums with the band This N That at the Knapp Senior Center and played drums for The Singing Wuenschels. She wrote her first book Adventures in Ministry, aka Working for the Church and it was published for her 85 th birthday. Before she died, she was working on her second book Having Fun at 91. Mary Jo was very proud of her 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.

A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Manvel on Saturday April 13, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. with Father William Wuenschel officiating, where she was a lector, percussionist and member since 1975.


  1. Good bye, my dear friend. We were not that close, but we were “close.” Remember when we hadn’t seen each other for years and ran into each other in Kroger, in the frozen food department, you in a shopping scooter, me with a basket, blocking traffic and freezing while we got caught up for, must have been over an hour? The resources we shared provided food for thought for some time. How familiar we were way back in our days at St. Helen through our visits at Attiva, always picking up where we left off, trusting, open, free, we shared what was real and good, finding a place where we agreed and “knew.” I know you will save me a place and be ready for a long chat when I join you in the Mystery.

    Pattie Courtin
  2. I will miss playing music with you. I have so many videos of you playing drums at our family reunions that I’ve shown to my drummer friends throughout the years. They were always so impressed by you. And who wouldn’t be. You were a remarkable woman. Strong, confident, loving, thoughtful. Love you, Mimi. You will be dearly missed.

    ( p.s. There are only 12/15 Grandchildren listed: Faith, Peter, and David Wuenschel, are the 3 others.)

    Faith Wuenschel
    • It has been updated Faith.

      Mary Anne Ehntholt
  3. Moms are special people, and we will pray for you and your family. (Mr. Wuenschel), you have my deepest sympathy! I am tremendously saddened for your loss. The memory of your Mother will give you comfort, and her legacy live through you all! God Bless your family.

    Dr. Shelita Jordan
  4. My dear Aunt Mary Jo,
    You are and always have been an inspiring and amazing woman. Kind, sensitive, lively, loving, musical and always faithful to our Lord are only a few of your many talents and gifts. You will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved you. Heaven will have a great angel to look down on all of us. I know you are celebrating already. Your memory will live on in all of your family and friends. How blessed I have been to be inspired by you and your family all these years.

    Dana Wuenschel Olup

Leave Your Condolences

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. Basic HTML code is allowed.