May 7, 1924 - September 19, 2015
“To Celebrate Is to Acknowledge the Gracious Love of Our God.”
The quote on the cover of Sister Estellyn’s Golden jubilee Liturgy program reads “To celebrate is to acknowledge the gracious love of our God”. Today we come together to do just that, we come to celebrate the life of Sister Estellyn Ganley, as she was known in the Congregation, Aunt Louise, and affectionately known as “weezie” to her family.
We celebrate God’s gracious love bestowed on Sister Estellyn throughout her ninety-one years of life, and God’s gracious love for us, as was manifested through Sister Estellyn. The word “celebration” connotes a happy, joyful gathering. It is puzzling to some when we say that we are gathered here to “celebrate” the life of someone who has died, but isn’t that why we have come together this morning? Our Faith reminds us that in the midst of our sorrow, we are happy for Sister Estellyn. Our celebration of the Eucharist is in thanksgiving for the gift Estellyn has been in our lives.
We often hear in the funeral Liturgy the phrase “life is not ended but merely changed”. Yesterday we began the season of autumn.We are about to see the lush green in nature become a panorama of vibrant colors. Estellyn’s life has not ended it has changed to a better life for all eternity. Our CSJ Constitution states that we are to be a “visible sign of God’s presence and active love.” Her life of sharing God’s gracious love with her family, with all us in the Congregation and with those in her ministry for whom she was a visible sign of God’s presence and active love is changed, not ended. We will feel Estellyn’s presence and love in a less visible way…. in a memory, a prayer, a picture or perhaps when we see or hear a drummer.
In today’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs we will hear “Wisdom’s ways are delightful ways, her paths all lead to contentment.”In an interview that was done with Sister Estellyn by Sister Rita McCormack, the response about her life as a CSJ was; “I’ve always been content and happy…I’ve always felt blessed and special and I’ve always felt that I was carried in the Lord’s hands.” I think Sister Estellyn summed up pretty well that the paths of her life as a Sister of St. Joseph, as a teacher, a Pastoral Associate or her ministry with seminarians all led her to happiness and contentment.
When I read an e-mail from Bishop Deeley, who could not be with us this morning, it reminded me of today’s Gospel on eternal life. The e-mail read; “Estellyn was a wonderful, caring woman who soothed the journey of life for many people with Faith, love, comfort and hope. What a beautiful legacy! ” St. John’s Gospel tells us that eternal life is the kind of life that results from a close loving relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. Eternal life is peace, joy, assurance, comfort, strength and hope. Eternal life is never ending life with God after we die but, it is also how we share life with each other here on earth. Sister Estellyn Ganley has certainly left us a legacy of how to be eternal life for each other.
Sister Estellyn did not wish any sharing of memories at her funeral. But I would like to share with you Estellyn’s expression of gratitude to those who were gathered to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in1996. I think it expresses what Sister Estellyn would like to say to all of us today.
“With a heart full of grateful joy to the Lord and to each of you, I humbly say 'thank you'. You have all shared in my life and I am delighted that you have shared with me the celebration of this occasion today.
Sister Estellyn Ganley, CSJ”
May you be at peace, Estellyn in the loving embrace of your God whom you have served with great generosity for sixty-nine years.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ