January 28, 1921 – December 20, 2014
We remember, We celebrate, We believe !
Lord of all, to You we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise!
We gather this morning to remember the life of Sister Marie Claire McCann, Sister Laurian to her former students and Aunt Marie not only to her devoted family, but to many members of the Congregation. We remember the gift she was to her family, especially her nieces, nephews and grandnieces and nephews, her colleagues in ministry and to us, the Sisters of St Joseph of Boston. Just a few months ago we gathered in this Chapel to celebrate Sister Marie’s life as a Sister of St. Joseph for 75 years. We come together today to console one another in our sadness and to support one another in our belief that life has not ended for Marie it has merely changed. Marie believed in the promise of eternal life given to each of us at our Baptism and on Saturday, December 20th that promise was fulfilled for Sister Marie.
Sister Marie’s whole life was a hymn of grateful praise. I cannot recall a conversation that I’ve had with Marie that did not include an expression of gratitude and affirmation. I cannot recall a visit when she didn’t express her gratitude to the Congregation for all that has been given to us .She daily expressed her gratitude for her life here at Bethany, grateful for the loving companionship of her friends and the residents especially on the 6th floor, grateful for the tender care of the nursing staff and grateful for the attention to detail of the laundry and housekeeping staff.
In talking to Marie over the last few years we came to realize that we had some common experiences in our Community life. We are both proud graduates of Mount Saint Joseph Academy. We both studied Theology and Parish ministry, we both were administrators in schools, and most notable, we were both principals at Gate of Heaven School in South Boston. We had some very lively discussions regarding changes in education, the Church and Religion. Over the last few days many people have called or e-mailed to express their condolences for Sister Marie but more importantly to relate a story or a memory of how Sister Marie impacted their lives whether she was their classroom teacher, the principal of their school or the Director of Religious Education in the Diocese.
As we move into our Liturgy this morning, I know you will be struck as I was in preparing the Liturgy, the many times we hear both in the Scripture readings Marie has chosen, as well as the songs she selected , the themes of praise and gratitude. From the Prophet Isaiah we’ll hear “let me sing the praises of God’s goodness”; from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians “praise be the God who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens” and in the Gospel story of the ten lepers, “one returned and gave thanks”. I must confess that I was a bit surprised at the Gospel Marie chose for her funeral Liturgy.
Not all the lepers returned to give thanks and I’ve always thought how ungrateful they were. This one leper’s eyes were opened and he sees that he has been cured so he runs back to Jesus with gratitude and praise. Even as Sister Marie’s eyesight has declined over the past few years, her eyes of Faith have never wavered .Her deep Faith enabled her to recognize the extent of the cured leper’s gratitude and so she lived her life to the full in grateful praise and thanksgiving.
In 1989 on the occasion of Marie’s Golden Jubilee celebration she wrote:
“Dear family and friends, I thank you most sincerely for being with me today as together we praise God in this time of Jubilee. May each one receive God’s love and faithfulness today and always. Lovingly, Sister Marie”
I think it is safe to say that this is Sister Marie’s prayer for each of us today, her devoted family whom she loved so much, her beloved Sisters in Community and the many people whose lives she touched in her ministry. The suddenness of Sister 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. And so today we “raise our hymn of grateful praise “ to God for the life of Sister Marie Claire McCann and pray that like Sister Marie we may live with a grateful heart and bear witness to Christ with our lives.
May our loving God who called Marie Claire McCann his own in Baptismand Sister Laurian by religious profession grant her eternal peace and joy.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy CSJ