October 29, 1930 - August 8, 2015
Every time I entered Sister Anna Michael’s room here at Bethany these past weeks, ill as she was, she always greeted me with a smile. During our conversations she would tell me how good the Congregation had been to her, and how blessed she was at this present time. She expressed often, how kind and loving the nursing staff was in their care for her. She often uttered the words, “I am so grateful!” Until she became too frail Anna Michael would never let me leave her room without giving me something. I know this was a gesture she also performed to her family members and to those who visited her. Once Anna was overheard saying she wanted to meet God with nothing but herself!
On the front cover of the funeral booklet is a quote from our Constitution: “We see relationship at the heart of mission, and thus we seek, to become ever more united in the mind and heart of Christ Jesus.”
From the time of her birth in South Boston into the Michael and Anna Griffin family with her four siblings, to her entrance into the Congregation on September 8, 1951, perhaps we could assume that Gertrude Griffin (Sister Anna Michael) recognized within her heart this sentence from our Constitutions. Maybe from her earliest days she recognized that for her, to create nurturing relationships with her family members, her Sisters within the Congregation, and her colleagues in ministry during her lifetime, would enable her to see the countenance of God and delight in the diversity of God’s presence.
Sister Anna Michael was a woman who dedicated her life as a Sister of St. Joseph to the service of the “dear neighbor” without distinction. In his letter to Timothy St. Paul tells him to “fan into flame the gift that God gave you”. This Sister Anna Michael did. The dedication she exhibited in her ministry extended to Sisters in our convents, to children at the Boston School for the Deaf, to customers serviced by her as the Food Supervisor for Hart/Lantana Caterers, and to the college girls, staff and Sisters at Regis College.
In reviewing statements written in an evaluation letter describing Sister Anna Michael’s work ethic were the phrases such as, “cordiality typified her, a willing attitude, will do whatever necessary, good control of the operation, a caring person. However, that same letter expressed her one “fault”– she “does the task herself rather than delegate”.
Interestingly, over the past years many of us residents of our Motherhouse had observed Anna Michael performing tasks around the building, which enhanced our residence a place of welcome, and tidiness.
Sister Anna Michael was enamored with her family, and delighted in being with them at family events and celebrations. For Anna (Aunt Gert), her family was “extraordinary people”! The Christmas Party in the Penthouse was an event she treasured. She was not only proud of each member of her family but deeply grateful for all they did for her. Whether with her family or with her Sisters in community, Anna’s laugh was spontaneous, she was most attentive, and was always eager to please.
In the Gospel reading for today’s Mass, we hear Jesus’ words: “You are the light of the earth”….do not hide it, set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house”. I believe that Gertrude Griffin, Sister Anna Michael, did just that for each of us. When she saw us in darkness, she brought us her light. As a woman of prayer Sister Anna Michael attempted to provide assistance to anyone she saw in need. She was aware that her talents and gifts had been given to her by God. In her prayerful relationship with God Sister Anna Michael recognized God would want her to share her talents and gifts - even give them away. So beingrecipients from Sister Anna Michael, who bestowed her treasures to each of us, perhaps we too can become aware of God nourishing us in the place(s) we needed to be fed. Sister Anna Michael was an example of service for all of us. She truly lived out the reading from our Constitution: “We strive in every aspect of our lives to be for others a visible sign of God’s active and inclusive love.”
May you Sister Anna Michael rest in the place God has prepared for you. We the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate your life and thank you for your presence in our lives.
Gail Donahue, CSJ
August 11, 2012