July 4, 1924 – July 31, 2017
“You are the light of the world…your light must shine in the sight of all people… so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to your God in Heaven .”Matthew 5: 14-16
We are gathered here this morning to honor and celebrate the life of Sister Mary Catherine McGovern, previously known as Sister Mary Leonardine. The quote from our CSJ Constitution on the cover of our worship aid seems to sum up Mary’s life as a Sister of St. Joseph. “We see relationship at the heart of Mission and we seek to become ever more united in the mind and heart of Christ Jesus and to foster growth in one another for the sake of the new creation.” Throughout Sister Mary’s seventy-four years as a Sister of St. Joseph, she served her loving God in a variety of ministries. She was present to people in so many ways as teacher, religious educator, Parish visitor, hospital chaplain, and kindergarten teacher. In her own words Mary has said that “she believes that her vocation was to make Christ’s love felt in her ministry by being a healing emissary.” Her goal was “to celebrate Christ in the daily life of the people of God.” The expectation she had for herself was to help people find hope in their lives. She believed that all of us need a listening ear and a caring presence to help us to work through the hard times we all face at one time or another. Mary prayed that her presence and love would be a support to those she came in contact with in her day to day ministry. As the prophet Jeremiah reminds us in today’s first reading, “When you seek me you shall find me, when you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me.” I think Sister Mary accomplished her goal: “to celebrate Christ in the daily life of the people of God.”
It seems that Mary’s ministry was always in relationship to others. At Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Sudbury, Mary began a Food Pantry which continues to this day. During the 34 years that Mary ministered in Sudbury, she was honored by the Sudbury Grange with the 1991 Community Citizens Award for outstanding dedication, service, and involvement in the Sudbury Community. Mary was also recognized by the Sudbury League of Women Voters for establishing a friendly visitor program for the elderly and sick which has now expanded and is operated in conjunction with the Visiting Nurse Association on a town wide basis. She brought the Eucharist to the sick and elderly who were homebound in the Parish. She visited and prayed with the sick in all the neighboring hospitals and nursing homes. As a Congregation we often hear about the good works our Sisters accomplish in their ministries and that is true about Sister Mary. But what I have heard and read about Sister Mary over the last few weeks as people speak of her, the focus on Mary shifts from her wonderful work in ministry, what she did, to whom she was as a friend, a colleague, a mentor who shared her love for God to all to whom she related. Sister Mary left a deep and lasting impression on those who knew her because of who she was as a Sister of St. Joseph. Relationship, who we are, is at the heart of mission, what we do.
Mary was a quiet woman; she was beloved by all who met her especially the Parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima Parish and the families at Sudbury Extended Day. Our Gospel reading in today’s liturgy is taken from Matthew, we will hear “You are the light of the world”. Sister Mary never tried to be in the lime light, to be the light of the world, but through her ministries she brought Christ’s light to the world.
Today we remember Sister Mary Catherine McGovern, Sister Leonardine, as a person who touched deeply the lives of all those to whom she ministered.
Relationship is the heart of mission – these words describe the manner in which Sister Mary lived her life as a Sister of St. Joseph. Mary developed wonderful relationships with all those she ministered to and those she ministered with and sought to foster growth in everyone.
Rest in peace, Mary!
Given by Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ