August 5, 1924 – May 11, 2017
“My soul thirsts for you, Lord, like the deserts thirsts for rain,
it is your face I long for; you alone are life to me.”
These words taken from today’s Responsorial Psalm reiterate one of the two themes that seemed to be part of the conversations between Catherine and me, especially during these last few months…longing for God and sincere gratitude and thanksgiving. The longing for God to come and take her home to him and the heartfelt gratitude she experienced in God’s tremendous goodness to her.
The words from our Constitution taken from the section on Community Life and found on the cover of Catherine’s Mass booklet, states: “We assume as part of our mission the development of loving, prayerful, welcoming communities…seeing relationship at the heart of mission…”
This statement together with today’s readings from the prophet Jeremiah, Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Gospel of John as well as the music Catherine prayerfully selected, gives us an indication as to the manner in which Catherine chose to live her life as a Sister of St. Joseph over these 71 of her almost 93 years. The readings speak of joyful dependence on God, the willingness to risk the new and unfamiliar, to sacrifice at any moment what we are, for what we can become, belonging solely to God, of being Christ’s presence to others, receiving and welcoming others as Christ would, of placing all our confidence in God alone.
Perhaps in praying with these readings, Catherine came to realize and accept how beloved of God she was, how she and God connected in a dynamic, loving relationship, freeing her to open herself so as to graciously receive as well as to generously give, of living with enthusiasm the charism of unifying love and of seeking to be of service to the dear neighbor in a spirit of gentleness and peace, simplicity and compassion, preparedness and patience. Aware of the needs of others, Catherine was disposed to risk personal transformation which may have been the result of any number of factors, among them her prayer, her various assignments, her volunteer work, the illnesses she experienced or the opportunities afforded her during her sabbatical time.
Years ago Catherine wrote two brief articles for our community newspaper. In one she spoke of being overwhelmed by the warmth, love, and concern, extended her while recuperating at the Motherhouse and Bethany that it brought her the “gift of tears…tears of joy” that she would be so blest. She concluded that article by stating, “With deep and lasting gratitude I say to my community Thank you”. These same sentiments of gratitude were shared with me just a few weeks ago.
In the second article, Catherine reflected upon her Sabbatical experience. “I thank God each day for the gift of my religious vocation and wish each of you in your vocation the joy, peace and blessings I have experienced in mine. I shall be everlastingly grateful to my community for all it has given and been for me.”
This same love and gratitude she extended to her brothers, John and Jerry, her sister and confidant, Mickey, and their families interested always in their lives and activities.
So much more could be said of her relationship with her dear friends, her avid interest in the news, her love of her Irish heritage, the joy that came from bargain hunting and thrift store stopping, or being one to travel the rails journeying by the T to various destinations.
In conclusion, when we listen today to John’s Gospel we will hear, “Do not let your hearts be troubled...I go to prepare a place for you, I am the way, the truth and the life.” Kay believed this and because she believed, she was ready for her final journey…
The following, written by Kay, is her final message to all of us:
I am off on a journey, to a better place.
Some day we will meet again face to face.
I’ve loved my life from beginning to end,
And I thank the Lord for family and friends.
The journey has been great but our paths must now part,
Someday I’ll be at the gate to welcome you all with joy in my heart.
Peace. Love and blessings to all,
Sister Kay Donovan
Roseann Amico, CSJ
May 17, 2017