September 19, 1921 – July 18, 2016
“I will always praise you,
I will always serve you,
I will always keep you in my sight.”
We gather together this morning to celebrate the life of Sister Mary M. Condon, also known as Sister Benjamin, and affectionately called “cousin Bennie“or “Benj”! Almost a year ago, we gathered in this chapel to celebrate Mary’s life as a Sister of St. Joseph for 75 years. We come together today not only to pray for Mary, but also to console one another in our sadness and to support each other in our belief that life hasn’t ended for Mary, it has merely changed.
On June 24th, 2012 the present Leadership team was installed. As we were leaving the Liturgy I asked my predecessor in Area B, Sister Brenda Forry, “When do we start?” She readily answered “right now”! Early the next morning I found myself at Metro West with Sister Mary Condon who most likely would be having surgery. This was my first real conversation with Mary. And as recently as last Friday she reminded me that she was the first Sister in Area B to meet the new Area Councilor. Needless to say we laughed about it many times over the last four years.
In the opening hymn of this prayer service we sang “when our life of Faith is done… we may behold you as you are, in full and endless sight.” Mary believed in the promise of eternal life given to each of us at Baptism. In the early morning hours of Monday, July 18th, that promise was fulfilled for Mary. Even though declared legally blind in 2001, Mary’s eyes of Faith have never wavered. Her life of Faith is done and now God is in her sight for all eternity.
On the cover of our program the quote from our CSJ Constitution reminds us that “our prayer requires the fidelity and courage to let ourselves be emptied by God that we might be filled with God’s love.” Sister Mary lived her life in intimate union with God in prayer. It’s hard to think of a time when Mary didn’t have her Rosary beads in her hands. No matter where you met her, on the porch after dinner, in the Chapel before and after Mass or in her room, her beads would be with her. Perhaps the exception is when Mary was playing bingo. She was a serious bingo player and loved to win! Although Mary lived with chronic pain, her fidelity to prayer and her courage to let herself be emptied by God, sustained her so she could be filled with God’s love in order to share that love with others.
Our Scripture readings today remind me of two of Mary’s gifts that she has shared with us – hospitality and companionship. The account from Genesis which we will listen to shortly about Abraham’s and Sarah’s hospitality to the three strangers, making sure they are fed, rested and refreshed, reminds me of Mary’s hospitality and welcome to the “dear neighbor” be it the Sisters in the Convent or the child who was sent to the Convent to get something to eat because he forgot his lunch, the nurses and aides who tried to make her more comfortable or the housekeeper who came to empty her wastebasket. To listen to and be present to another is to welcome them, Mary’s gift of hospitality.
Today’s Gospel story is about two different levels of hospitality, Martha’s practical service of dutifully and generously providing what is needed to welcome Jesus and to show her love for Him and her sister, Mary’s focusing all her attention on Jesus, listening to Him and deepening her relationship with Him. As Sisters of St. Joseph we believe that “our prayer and our ministry” our “being and our doing” is filled with God’s love that flows out to those who lives we touch. We are called to be contemplative and apostolic in our ministry. Sister Mary embraced both these levels of hospitality in her ministry of welcome and her ministry of companionship. She companioned the sick and dying by her prayers and her presence always with her Rosary beads in hand.
It will take us some time to adjust to the suddenness of Sister Mary’s death however we have the consolation of knowing that Mary now enjoys the fullness of life with her loving God, her parents, her cousins and her friends gone before her.
Sister Mary, God has always been the center of your life, you have always praised God, You have always served God, and now God is in your sight for all eternity. Rest in peace.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy,CSJ