I am remembering my dear friend Sister Kieran this morning who went home to God over the weekend.
Kieran was herself fond of the early morning hours. She lived for many years at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, our main west coast community on the shores of Lake Washington. When she was more able, she’d be the one to fetch the morning papers from up the hill, to make the proper Irish oatmeal, and keep you company in the dining room. I remember when she was in the hospital a few years ago, there was a long list of all the tasks she normally took care of that needed to be done by a whole host of others while she recovered.
Sister Kieran brought life just by her presence. She was one of the first sisters to welcome me to community. I mean that in more than one way. She was a constant presence at St. Mary’s whenever I visited. She had a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. She also made you feel accepted just as you were. She made me feel at home and wanted and part of the CSJP family from the very beginning.
Sister Kieran was also, as the title says, a fiesty and faithful friend. She’d be the first to tell you if your homily reflection was a bit on the long side. She loved to tell stories, and my favorite was when she’d preference a story about me by saying, “Remember when you were a young sister and you …”. As I was remembering Kieran this morning, I thought of this picture, which was taken at a recent assembly. This is Kieran, alive and engaged and in action. No doubt she is alive and engaged and in action in heaven, catching up with loved ones and keeping a keen eye on all the goings on in this world as we prepare to celebrate her life.
Thank you Kieran for being my friend, for your faithful witness and your fiesty spirit. I will miss you but am better for having known and loved you, even if just for a time.
Sister Marie Paula went home to her loving God yesterday, just a little more than a month shy of reaching 98 years of age. She was one of the first CSJP Sisters I met in the east on a visit I made to check out the lay of the land before I entered the novitiate.
I will never forget her delight at meeting one of the “postulants from the west.” I can still picture that first encounter in my mind’s eye. It was in the chapel of Villa Marie Claire, where she was living and which is now used as a hospice. She told me that she had been praying for me. This is not an unusual statement, given the context, but then she pulled a picture out of her pocket. It was a picture of me with the other candidates who were set to enter the novitiate. She was carrying us in her pocket as she prayed for us, literally holding us in prayer.
A few weeks ago I had a good visit with her in her room in the infirmary. She was now on hospice herself at the end of a life of prayer and loving service. I told her this story, and that I felt like she had literally prayed me into the congregation. I then told her that when she got to the other side, she had a lot of work to do praying for the new sisters who have not yet come. They needed her prayers too. She got very animated and talked about the joy of a life lived in community serving the Lord. She was alive right up until the end with the love of God and love for our CSJP community.
I love this picture of Sister Marie Paula. It was taken in March at our community assembly which was focused on future oriented conversations about mission. There she is, leaning in, actively listening. For me it is a perfect portrait of an amazing, authentic, and animated woman of peace.
We will say goodbye to Sister Marie Paula this week. We will celebrate her life and remember the gift she was to our community, church, and world. I have no doubt that she will be leaning in from her new home, listening to all that is going on, and praying fervently for our community, our mission of peace, and the sisters yet to to come.