February 2, 1925 - May 27, 2013
In the Consensus Statement of the Sister of St. Joseph which we heard this afternoon when the Sisters from Fontbonne Convent and Sister Mary's family welcomed her home to Milton and to St. Elizabeth Parish where she lovingly served for so many years, we were reminded that a Sister of St. Joseph "moves always towards the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction."
Mary's love of God was expressed in how she loved the "dear neighbor" throughout her sixty-seven years of ministry as a Sister of St. Joseph in elementary schools, Religious Education Programs and Parish ministry.
It was obvious to me as I prepared this evening's prayer and Sister Mary's funeral Liturgy, which we will celebrate tomorrow, that there were definite themes that Sister Mary offers for our reflection. The Scripture and songs that Sister Mary chose for her funeral Liturgy can comfort us in our sadness and sorrow.
The Old Testament reading from the Song of Songs is a song of praise celebrating God's creation and the gift of love that God gives to each and every one of us. This Old Testament reading is a poem which demonstrates the importance God places on love and commitment. Both Christian and Jewish scholars have suggested that the Song of Songs is a picture of either God's love of His people Israel or Christ's love for the Church.
On February 8, 1925 Mary's parents, John and Elizabeth, brought Mary Katherine into the love of the family of God with Baptism. Almost sixty-eight years ago, Mary answered God's call to come and live in God's presence and love and to be Christ's love for the Church, especially for the "dear neighbor".
In tomorrow's psalm response we will sing "I have loved you with an everlasting love, you are mine." Over the last few weeks, Sister Mary would often say how good God has been to her. Tonight we rejoice with Sister Mary as she enjoys God's love for all eternity.
Paul's letter to the Philippians begins with the words "Grace and Peace". Grace is God's generous "free gift" to us. God gives it to us because he loves us. All good gifts come from God and Paul continues in his letter to the Philippians thanking God for all who helped him in the work of the Gospel "from the very first day until now." Sister Mary spent her ministerial life spreading the Gospel from "the very first day until now".
Finally the Gospel which will be proclaimed tomorrow, which Sister Mary chose, is the Gospel of the Transfiguration. The Gospel doesn't say that Jesus was "transformed". He didn't undergo any actual change of substance only a change of his outer appearance. Perhaps Sister Mary chose this Gospel to help us to accept and be at peace with her passing knowing that her life hasn't ended but merely changed and that one day we will all be united with those who have gone before us in Faith.
Over the last few months Mary spoke so often of her gratitude to God for her family , her friends, her vocation to the "Congregation of the great love of God" and to the many people who shared her journey of Faith while on earth. To paraphrase St. Paul's letter to the Philippians we can pray – we'll thank our God for you, Sister Mary, every time we think of you and every time we pray for you we'll pray with joy. God began this good work in you and we are sure He will continue it in us. He will do so until it is complete and it will be complete on the day we join you and are reunited for all eternity.
On Memorial Day, May 27 th, God called his beloved, Sister Mary Katherine Walsh, one last time. May our God who claimed Mary as His own in Baptism and by religious profession now enfold her in love and bring her to eternal life.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ