November 20, 1924 – April 11, 2017
Stimulated by the Holy Spirit and receptive to its inspirations, the Sister of St. Joseph moves always toward the profound love of God….a statement taken from the Consensus Statement of our Constitution.
She was tall, rather stately, pleasantness etched across her face as she moved with a sense of purpose… an expression written by Sister Marie Marguerite Killelea, CSJ on the occasion of Sister Philomene’s Golden Jubilee. To me, these two texts personify the woman we are honoring this morning – Sister Philomene Walsh.
For those who knew and loved Sister Philomene Walsh, she was a woman religious who possessed a profound love of God, and radiated this bond with the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph in her personal and her ministerial life.
Entering the Congregation on September 8, 1943, it appears as if Anna Rose Walsh devoted her life to be a committed Sister of St. Joseph. Ministering within the Congregation as Sister Philomene, she embraced the arena of education. Throughout her ministerial life as an elementary and secondary teacher, college instructor, registrar, Sister Philomene crowned her career when appointed the president of Aquinas Junior College in Newton. In each of these institutions, students, staff and parents witnessed a woman who was solicitous for their welfare, and endeavored daily to maintain an atmosphere that was conducive to the students attaining their educational goals as well as becoming the unique person God created them to be.
From 1970 to its closing Sister Philomene resided at Maria Convent. There, with many other sisters, she also lived with her dear friends, Sister Eleanor K. Shea and Sister Marian Bartho. Interestingly, Sister Philomene had welcomed Sister Marian, during her formation years as a Sister of St. Joseph to reside at Maria Convent. From that year to this day Sister Marian has sustained an intimate relationship of love and care with Sister Philomene. Even after her retirement, at the request of Sister Marian, Sister Philomene along with Sister Eleanor offered their talents to the Office of the Delegate for Religious. Their presence and work was widely acclaimed by all the personnel at the Pastoral Center.
Born into a loving family, Sister Philomene maintained a close relationship not only with her siblings, but also her nieces and nephews and their families. She delighted in seeing them at holidays, visiting at Cape Cod, exchanging telephone conversations and family celebrations. This was evident to the sisters at Maria Convent and within the past years, those at Bethany. Both could attest to the affection and devotion Sister Philomene’s siblings and family had for her.
When we read the words from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we can understand the reason for the fondness Sister Philomene gave to her family members, as well as to her places of ministry. Sister Philomene was a woman of “compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience”. She attempted to “put on love” each day of her life and her being radiated this persona to each person she met.
Marcia Allen, CSJ, in an adaptation of “The Charism in Time of Conflict” states: “The Charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph sends us into the world as continuous acts of love, a love that forms bridges and makes connections easier; a love that facilitates life for others, enabling them also to stir up love in our world”. Perhaps we can say Sister Philomene Walsh did just that during her 74 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Boston.
Our gospel reading this morning from St. John reminds us that we do not act alone in performing good works. I believe Sister Philomene knew this. She recognized that she could not flourish unless she was connected to the vine – the arm of Christ. She knew that her fruits were both hers and the loving God who guided her daily in her life as a Sister of St. Joseph. In her heart and in her prayer, Sister Philomene constantly attempted to remain in God’s embrace, aware that she was in God’s hand.
We as Sisters of St. Joseph honor the life of Sister Philomene Walsh. We give thanks to you, her family for gifting us with your Aunt, great and grand. She loved you as she loved our sisters and her God. We thank you for allowing us to walk our CSJ journey with Sister Philomene.
I now invite Lynne Trembly, Sister Philomene’s grandniece, to come to the podium to offer a reflection on behalf of Sr. Philomene’s family.
Sister Philomene, may you now rest in the peace of our loving God.
Gail Donahue, CSJ