February 6, 1922 – November 20, 2016
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you…You are mine” Is.43:2
It is no surprise to anyone here this morning that Sister Monice was a woman of few words, a humble woman, a quiet woman, who even laughed quietly. Although not a great talker, she was an insightful observer of life, a woman of Faith, Hope and Love. She was a prayerful woman; you might ask how I know this.
Back in 2012 when the Area Councilors asked the Sisters in the Congregation to update their funeral plans, the Scripture passages and the hymns we will listen to and sing this morning are those chosen by Sister Monice four years ago. At that time there was no hint of illness, no idea of what the last months or years of her life would hold for her. But I do l feel that Sister Monice believed what the prophet Isaiah says in the first reading of our Liturgy, “When you pass through the waters I will be with you.”(Is.43:2).
Monice also took to heart the words of our responsorial psalm “Shepherd me O, God… beyond my fears, from death into life.” Monice was a woman of Faith.
Joan Chittister writes in her book The Gift of years, “There comes a time in our lives called the “twilight years” that space between here and there, between earth and eternity, when we begin to be more there then here.” While visiting with Sister Monice on November twelfth, (eight days before she died)
She reminded me that it was three months to the day when she walked into St. Elizabeth Hospital, to begin her final journey to eternal life. Sister Monice’s acceptance of her terminal illness and the manner in which she lived these last three months is indicative to me of her openness to God’s Grace, the fruit of a life of prayerful dependence upon God, a life of a prayerful woman who knew she was “precious in God’s sight” (Is 43:3) and that she was loved by God. A woman who knew that God was her companion on this journey we call life. Monice was a woman of Hope.
As I prayed with the Scriptures selected by Monice, it became apparent to me that the theme of being CHOSEN by God was evident. Again, from the Prophet Isaiah, “I have called you by name, you are mine…
Because you are precious in my sight, honored and I love you.” From Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we’ll hear; “As the chosen of God, holy and beloved … may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts because it is for this (love) that you were called.” And St. John’s Gospel; “It was not you who chose me; it was I who chose you.” In these final months, the peace of Christ reigned in Monice’s heart because it was for love that she was called. Although Monice’s time at Bethany was relatively brief, she was admired and loved by the staff on the fourth floor. She in turn never missed an opportunity to express her gratitude and love to them for their attentive care and love. They were family to her. Monice was a woman of love.
As I sat with Sister Monice on the day she died, a line from Robert Browning’s poem “Rabbi Ben Ezra” a few familiar lines kept coming to mind. It reads in part: “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be…Our times are in His hand…trust God: see all, nor be afraid.” Monice understood that the best was yet to come; she realized that her time was in God’s hands and she was not afraid!
You have probably realized by the brevity of my reflection that Sister Monice, a woman of few words, wished only a few words to be shared at this time. A request I tried to fulfill. So perhaps in the days and months ahead when we think of Sister Monice’s passing from this life to eternal life we can recall and reflect upon the Scripture and hymns of today’s Liturgy remembering that Monice is now “precious in God’s for all eternity.”
We are grateful for the gift Sister Monice McManus has been to our Congregation, to her local Community, the Sisters here at Fontbonne Convent, and the children and parishioners of St. Theresa Parish. The same loving God who chose Madeline Veronica McManus in Baptism and Sister Monice by Religious Profession has chosen her one last time to be in his presence for all eternity.
May Sister Monice rest in peace.
Given by Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ