May 14, 1925 - September 7, 2013
We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe
We gather this evening to remember the life of Sister Catherine Gorman, Sister Xaverio to some, Aunt Kate or Kay to others. We remember the gift she was to her family, especially her nieces and nephews, her devoted cousins and her dear friends, some of whom have joined us here this evening. We also remember the gift she was to her former students and to us, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. We gather to celebrate Sister Catherine’s life as a Sister of St. Joseph for sixty –nine years and to celebrate her gift of song and her love for learning which she so generously shared with all whose lives she touched in her ministry of education. And we come together to comfort one another in our sadness and to support one another in our belief that life has not ended for Sister Catherine it has merely changed. Sister Catherine believed in the promise of eternal life given to each of us at our Baptism and on September 7th that promise was fulfilled for her.
Sister Catherine has requested that we do not give reflections or share memories on her life and so I will honor her request.
As we move into our Liturgy this evening, the Scriptures that will be proclaimed and the hymns that will be sung were prepared for us by Sister Catherine. It struck me as I prayed with these Scripture passages that Sister Catherine is leaving us a message to console us in our sadness. In our first reading from the Book of Lamentations the Prophet Jeremiah tells us that “the favors of God are not all past, God’s kindnesses are not exhausted; every morning God’s love and faithfulness is renewed. “I think that Catherine is reminding us and reassuring us that God’s love and faithfulness never ends, even in death.
In St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians Paul prays that God, “will choose in his grace, to grant that we are filled with the fullness of God.” This was Paul’s hope for the Ephesian believers. I feel that this is Catherine’s hope for all of us. But how do we get to that completion of God’s work in us so that we are “filled with the fullness of God?” Paul knows that to reach the goal of being filled with the fullness of God we need to constantly experience the love of God. Knowing God’s love is not enough we have to experience and comprehend what are the breadth and length, height and depth of Christ’s love that surpasses all knowledge. What Paul desires for us in his prayer to the Ephesians is that we have an ongoing, deepening, lengthening experience of a reality that we will never exhaust … and that reality is the love of Christ!
Our Gospel this evening presents to us a roadmap to guide us as we yearn to be “filled with the fullness of God”. We will be “blessed” and “filled with God’s goodness” if we live our lives in humble generosity to others, in forgiveness joyfully given, in holiness strived for, in beliefs lived. For sixty-nine years as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Catherine Gorman lived the Beatitudes in so many ways. She now enjoys God’s promise of eternal life and lives forever in the company of the “blessed.”
When experiences in life come our way that are challenging and counter to our expectations as to how we think our lives should be, we wonder where God is in all of this. As difficult as it is for us to comprehend, it is important for us to remember that God is present in every circumstance of our lives. God comforts us in our pain, God mourns with us in our sorrow and God rejoices with us in our gladness.
God is ever near in every event of life. When we can’t see God’s hand in the events of our lives we can trust in God’s heart. This is the experience of God’s love that can never be exhausted.
In the Communion hymn that Sister Catherine chose for us this evening we will sing “O Lord you are the center of my life; I will always praise you; I will always serve you, I will always keep you in my sight.” Catherine continually praised God with her gift of song. She faithfully served God in her ministerial life. God was the center of Catherine’s earthly life. We now believe that God is forever in Catherine’s sight as she enjoys the promise of eternal life.
Let us pray that God will grant us all, the faith to believe as Sister Catherine believed, that by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, God “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine.”
And now may our loving God who called Sister Catherine Gorman as his own in Baptism and by religious profession as a Sister of St. Joseph now enfold her with God’s inexhaustible love and grant her eternal peace and joy.
Given by Sister Patricia McCarthy, CSJ