“Where do your kids go to school?”
“Is Sister Catherine still there?”
For four beautiful years, that was the famed question. “If I had a dollar…” comes to mind.
It was one year ago that our beloved school and parish would learn that our Sister Catherine had passed from this life to the next. She was what we call an institution. She served the Trinity School and Parish community for 47 years. I don’t know about you, but when the time comes, I am not sure I will say I had a career for 47 years.
There was truly no one like her on this earth. Sister, I think of you every day. You were the truest example of loving and serving Christ, of showing and teaching compassion, and this season was too short in our lives. I wanted more, so much more time with you. I wanted my sons to have that time with you too.
Parents – lean in for a second.
Sister was 86 years old. She was energetic, caring, loved Jesus, her students, and never forgot a name. She is exactly who I want to be at 86, Lord willing. Eight-six is an amazing age. A life well, and fully lived. God gave me a gift the day she passed. Sister had briefly (less then 24 hours, as I understand it) been diagnosed with leukemia the day she passed. It was hard news to digest. When Chef and I told the boys, I was too emotionally exhausted to hold back the tears. I used that moment, that parenting moment that you just know in your mind can only go up or down, to explain that while I missed her, and I was heart broken, I knew that Sister had lived a full life, and God was ready for her to go to heaven. Death is made so much more complex because we are human. We fear the end. We fear the unknown. Death is only a new beginning, and at eighty-six is inevitable. It was truly a gift because it was not only easy to explain, but more than that, my children and Chef and I didn’t watch her suffer in this life.
A few weeks ago, our Trinity Parish celebrated Sister, and I was honored when our liturgy committee asked me to write a few remarks about her. If I really set my mind to it, I could write a book about her love for Jesus, these short remarks say it all for me.
When you are born you belong to one family. Sister grew to belong to three – her biological family, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and she fearlessly, and passionately chose this Trinity family, this school, and this parish.
In the year she has gone, we reflect on the gift she was to us. She was our spiritual leader, and our counselor. And above all, we reflect on her love of our God, and that she chose each day to walk with Him faithfully, and in everything she did, she showed His love to us.
Truly, not a day, a moment, an event has passed that Sister isn’t present. The first day of school, and the last, Christmas mass, concerts, prayer services, May procession, Turtle Derby, Halloween parade, Holy Week, First Communion and more. She had the talent of ten – a lesson we have all been quick to learn this last year. We hear her voice in the choir, engage her wisdom in our hearts, and above all feel her love for us.
As Father John said, Sister was a force not meant to be controlled. She spent a lifetime touching lives and living in God’s faith. Each of us was blessed to know her, for a day, a year, a lifetime.
Forever in our hearts, and on our minds. Thank you for sharing a beautiful life with us all Sister.