February 2, 1915 - June 3, 2015
For your love is all around.
My song will be for you forever.
We are here this morning to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman, Sister Mary Elizabeth Hession, (Sister Senorina), who was given the gift of a long and happy life - one hundred years.
In the introduction of the book, The Gift of Years Growing Older Gracefully, JoanChittister writes “…life is not about breathing only. Life is about becoming more than we are, life is about all that we can be.” Every day of Sister Mary Elizabeth’s life, she was becoming the best she could be.
In a few minutes we will hear from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans which states that we all have gifts which differ according to the grace given to each of us. Sister Mary Elizabeth had many gifts but her greatest gift was the gift of who she was as a person - her love, her obvious joy, her generosity, her care and concern for others and her abundant gratitude. Paul exhorts us to use whatever gifts we have wisely for the good of all people. We have all been the recipients of Mary Elizabeth’s many gifts. Through her gift of music, Sister shared her love of God, of the Congregation, her family and the “dear neighbor”. Sharing her time and talent with other musicians in the Congregation and teaching young Sisters how to teach music in their classrooms reflected her generosity. I loved being in Mary Elizabeth’s company. My spirit was always lifted when I spoke with her. I imagine that each one in this Chapel can recall a time when Mary Elizabeth called you “dear”. I have been called “dear” by many people in my life but when Sister Mary Elizabeth would greet me the lilt in her voice brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. Her greeting of “hello, dear” was always cheerful and her “thank you, dear” so full of gratitude. Mary Elizabeth was a gracious woman.
In some translations of the Beatitudes, the word blessed is translated as happy. As we listen to the Gospel this morning, I would like you to convert the word “Blessed” “to “Happy.” In the Beatitudes Jesus calls each of us to measure our years by the things of God: in humble generosity to others, in forgiveness joyfully given, in holiness strived for, and in beliefs lived. The Beatitudes offer us the simplest means for our journey home .For almost 80 years Sister Mary Elizabeth lived the Beatitudes in so many ways as a Sister of St. Joseph. She was a gentle woman. She was a merciful woman. She was a happy woman.
Emily Dickinson wrote; “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” This is because life begins new again every day. Perhaps Emily Dickinson was familiar with the Prophet Jeremiah who reminds us in today’s first reading that “the favors of the Lord…are renewed each morning, good is the Lord to one who waits, so great is God’s faithfulness ! Sister Mary Elizabeth’s waiting is over. The reward for her faithfulness and her hidden and self-emptying labors is the deep joy and the loving embrace she received as she entered her eternal home.
And now may our loving God who called our dear Sister Mary Elizabeth Hession as his own in Baptism one hundred years ago and by religious profession as a Sister of St Joseph almost eighty years ago now embrace her with inexhaustible love and grant her eternal peace and joy.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ