February 22, 1926 – January 11, 2018
God’s Grace is God’s Own Love in Action
We gather at this celebration this morning to give thanks for and to remember with love and gratitude the life of Sister Marie Louise McDonough who lived her life as a Sister of St. Joseph according to the Graces given to her by our loving God. The quote from our CSJ Constitution on the cover of Marie’s program seems to capture Marie’s life as a CSJ. “We see relationship at the heart of Mission and we seek to become more united in the mind and heart of Christ Jesus and to foster growth in one another.” Throughout Marie’s seventy-four years as a CSJ she served her loving God in a variety of ministries. Relationship, who we are is the heart of Mission, what we do.
If we listen carefully to the Scripture readings that Marie provided for her funeral Liturgy we will hear repeated the themes of being called, and being chosen. They speak of relationship, of friendship, being precious in God’s sight and loved unconditionally by God. These readings give us a glimpse of Marie’s understanding of being united in the mind and heart of Christ Jesus and how she fostered that understanding in the people she served.
Our First reading from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us that God calls each of us by name, we belong to God. We are precious in God’s sight and loved by God unconditionally. Marie shared her belief of God’s unconditional love for her with the people of God she encountered in her ministries- relationship – giving herself to others, always reaching out to the “dear neighbor”. God’s Grace is God’s Own Love in Action.
In the letter to the Colossians, St. Paul repeats for us the same message – “you are God’s chosen one, God loves you, Clothe yourself with sincere compassion, kindness , patience and gentleness, above all put on love…. be thankful… let the message of Christ find a home in you.” These words found a home in Marie’s heart and took root as she helped this message find a home in the hearts of all to whom she ministered. Her trust in God provided her with the Grace she needed to respond to God’s plan for her. God’s grace is God’s own love in action.
The Gospel reading selected by Marie is the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes have been described in a variety of ways. They have been called the “Magna Carta” of the Christian life,” “a blue print for happiness” and a description I recently read is “The Beatitudes are attitudes that should be in our lives.” In the Beatitudes Jesus calls each of us to measure our years by the things of God like humble generosity to others, in forgiveness joyfully given, in holiness strived for and in belief lived. The Beatitudes also parallel our CSJ Consensus Statement which captures our life. “A Sister of St. Joseph moves always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.”
Marie had great gratitude for many things in her life, her wonderful family and friends, her Faith and her vocation which were nourished in her family and at Gate of Heaven High School (class of 1943) her local community, Claire and Dionetta, who lived together for 28 years, her Irish heritage, actually all things Irish, Castle Island, and her great devotion to our Blessed Mother. I’d like to think that early on the morning of January 11th, when God called Marie’s name one last time that she was welcomed at the Gate of Heaven by Our Lady, Gate of Heaven, and the McDonough Clan who have gone before her. Over the last few days, I was told that a favorite saying of Marie’s when the junior Sisters ministered with her at Bethany was “thanks a thousand!” So today we say to you, Marie “thanks a thousand!” for your generous response to God’s call to the Congregation of the great love of God!
The suddenness of Marie’s death is difficult for us to comprehend but we can be assured of God’s faithfulness and love to sustain us in the days ahead.
Rest in peace, Marie, until we meet again.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ