March 22, 1913 – September 24, 2013
At this time of day S. Eusebia in her spirit of gracious hospitality would be offering each of us a cup of tea in a china cup.
This morning we welcomed Sister Eusebia back to this Community at Bethany Health Care Center, a place she called home since her final retirement from Sacred Heart, Roslindale. At that time we heard words from the Constitution of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the section on Spirit and Purpose, which stated: “We strive in every aspect of our lives to be for others a visible sign of God’s presence and active love. In simplicity and joy we celebrate the meaning of our Christian life ….we look to Joseph as our model of justice, gentleness and humility, extending, as he did, a cordial charity toward all.”
Sister Eusebia, Esther Callahan, certainly epitomized these words; being that visible sign of God’s presence, extending cordial charity to all…Hallmark qualities of hers. I am sure that many here may have been the recipients of her welcome smile or her offer of a cup of tea. In those simple gestures Eusebia was living the charism of gracious hospitality in the manner of Joseph.
So often during these past few days I heard her friends and colleagues remark about Eusebia’s capacity to extend herself to others, to her family, whom she dearly loved, her friends, the faculty, staff and children at school, and the nurses and staff here at Bethany. They spoke also of the attentiveness and interest she demonstrated to all those lives she touched and those who touched hers.
No matter the place or the circumstance, S. Eusebia, revealed a humble devoted presence, she was thoughtful, meticulous, generous, lady like, and always grateful for whatever anyone did for her. I believe that she was keenly aware that her life as a Sister of Saint Joseph and her ministry to God’s people was animated by her life of prayer. She acknowledged frequently that she was sustained by her ever faithful God, as well as the attention she received from the many who journeyed with her, especially in these later years by the nurses and staff on the 2nd floor. In her very act of reaching out and of receiving, she and others grew to appreciate and understand that each were beloved of God.
Eusebia was born over 100 years ago at her home in Winchester, which was located in the shadow of St. Mary’s Church. In 1932, two years after she graduated from Saint Mary’s High School, she heard God’s voice and discerned God’s call to enter religious life; and for almost 82 years S. Eusebia responded and lived as a faith-filled, dedicated Sister of Saint Joseph.
For most of her ministerial life, Sister was an educator in various Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston, 42 of those being at Sacred Heart. She was always the professional, providing a learning environment in which her students were challenged and encouraged to develop to their fullest potential, was well prepared for her classes, willing to share her wisdom with her colleagues, and was beloved by her students, their parents and faculty members.
When Eusebia determined that her time in the classroom was coming to an end she was invited to continue her service in the school and to share her many gifts as the school’s librarian. Thus she was able to maintain contact with the children and faculty which enabled her to retain her youthful spirit, and awareness of the events and happenings in the lives of those who encompassed the school community. For her third career, some years later, S. Eusebia was the gracious presence in the convent to her local community. From 1961 until the convent closed in 2004, S. Eusebia made her home and was at home in Sacred Heart Parish, Roslindale. When the Convent closed in 2004, S. Eusebia came to St Joseph Hall but within a short time, because of her declining health, moved to Bethany.
S. Eusebia truly had a long life, and a long successful career of doing what she loved to do, being a Sister of Saint Joseph, and teaching; especially 6th graders. Many of her students attribute their acceptance into the Boston exam schools to her diligent teaching and personal encouragement.
The first reading from Jeremiah which we will hear this morning, tells of God’s relationship and promise to the Israelite nation to bring them back to their homeland, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, reserving a future full of hope. I listened when you called to me; I let you find me when you sought me with all your heart”. I’d like to think that God made a similar promise to S. Eusebia. She trusted God’s plan and lived her life confident of God’s love and faithfulness and believed that one day God would bring her to her final home.
In the letter of Paul to the Colossians we will hear, “We are God’s chosen ones; clothe yourself with sincere compassion, kindness, patience, gentleness; above all be clothed in love.” Eusebia lived and shared by word, and example the virtues referred to by Paul. I can imagine that each day as Eusebia dressed her final outer garment was to put on love.
S. Eusebia was so grateful for the attention, love and care she received from the entire staff on the 2nd floor and for the friendships she formed while at Bethany.
We pray in gratitude for the life of Sister Eusebia and we rejoice with her that she now celebrates her new life in the presence of the One who said, “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Memories are truly gifts. They allow us to keep the spirit of a loved one alive in our hearts; I invite her nephew Bill to share a few words for the family.
S Eusebia, heard God’s call. She answered, “Here I am” and in humility, fidelity and total dedication lived her life as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Given by: Roseann Amico, CSJ
The Sacred Heart pictured in the program book is located above the tabernacle in the lower church at Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale.