May 10, 1929 – May 19, 2017
“Even when alone, be cheerful, remembering always
that you are in the sight of angels.” St. Therese of Lisieux
Good morning, we gather this morning to celebrate the life of Sister Dorothy F. McCarthy, Sister St. Patricia, to remember the gift she was to her family, to the Sisters of St. Joseph and to the people of God, especially the children she taught, and to confirm our own belief in the promise of eternal life which Sister Dorothy now enjoys.
Whenever I entered Sister Dorothy’s room there were always a few items that caught my attention, things that indicated to me what really mattered to Dottie, what was important to her. I imagine you could name these same items – family, music and angels. Her love for her family, and her CSJ family was evident in the pictures of her parents, siblings and all the generations that followed, the pictures
of her with her CSJ friends and recently the birthday cards she received for her birthday on May 10th. Angels could be found everywhere, be it statues, holy cards, or pictures, and of course, her love of music. Dottie loved to sing and it wouldn’t take much coaxing to have her break into song, be it hymns, popular songs or show tunes. People have shared fond memories of Dottie being the cantor at Sisters’ funerals or leading the congregational singing at Mass in the Motherhouse.
As I sat with Dottie last Friday while she was on her final journey and listened to the reflective music in her room, playing were some traditional hymns to the Blessed Mother and I thought to myself how appropriate it was that Dottie was listening to Marian hymns. I was told, that while at St Columbkille’s Dottie was considered the “May Procession Queen”. I thought how coincidental it was that Dottie was to die in the month of May, just days after her 88th birthday, with hymns to Mary filling her room. While sitting with Dottie it occurred to me that there are really no coincidences in life, perhaps it was her guardian angel accompanying her toward her eternal reward. Dottie’s devotion to angels intrigued me. So I decided to find out more about them. In Greek, the word for angel means “messenger” or the “one sent”. In Scripture, God sometimes sent angels as messengers. The ministry of angels was to attend to the needs of human beings. They speak to people, they lead people to serve God faithfully, and they instruct us and sometimes announce important events. As in the Annunciation, and the birth of Christ, they live in God’s presence all the time.
It has been said that angels exist in our lives every day, but unless we remember how to listen, we are not aware of their presence. As we enter into our Liturgy we will recognize in the Scripture and hymns chosen by Dottie, how angels were leading her to serve God faithfully and to spend her life in joyful praise to God. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul exhorts us to sing hymns and psalms and inspired songs with gratitude in our hearts. The words in every hymn in this morning’s Liturgy, speak of angels leading us to sing joyful music giving praise and thanksgiving to our God.
In our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, God says “I have called you by name,… I know the plans I have for you. You listened when I called you: you sought me with all your heart.” Perhaps God was speaking through Dottie’s angel, leading her, instructing her, announcing God’s plan for her when she answered God’s call to become a Sister of St. Joseph over seventy years ago.
In John’s Gospel, we will hear that we have been chosen by God and are called his friends. We are sent to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last. For over fifty years Sister Dorothy McCarthy instructed countless students in the Faith and taught by the example of her life the most important lesson they could learn, to love one another as God has loved them.
During the prayers of final commendation, this morning we will sing: “May songs of the angels welcome you and guide you along your way….Every fear will be undone, and death will be no more, as songs of the angels bring you home before the face of God.” We know that Dottie believed that her angels were guiding her during her life. My belief in angels falls far short of Dottie’s. But I do believe that on Friday afternoon the songs of the angels, perhaps a Marian hymn, brought Dottie to her eternal home to meet the God she so faithfully served.
May our loving God who called Dorothy Frances McCarthy in Baptism and Sister St. Patricia by religious profession now enfold her in the love, peace and joy of eternal life. Rest in peace, Dottie!
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ