September 2, 1916 – March 3, 2016
“As Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston…We strive in every aspect of our lives to be for others a visible sign of God’s presence and active love.” (CSJ Constitution, Spirit and Purpose)
These words seem to exemplify the life of Sister Robard Craven. For over 82 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Boston, Sister Robard, Mary Rita Craven, truly lived the words of our CSJ Constitution wherever she found herself, be it in ministry or living in Community. Wherever she was , she was a visible sign of God’s presence and active love to all. She certainly was a sign of God’s presence and active love here at Bethany. Anyone who walked into Sister Robard’s room knew they were in the presence of a woman who loved God and who knew she was loved by God. Robard was a humble, gentle woman who asked for nothing for herself. She never complained about her physical challenges. I was told by the staff on the third floor that on the day before she died she told the nurses that she had a great day. You may wonder what could have made it such a great day. Well, on Wednesday she relished a jelly donut for breakfast and had her hair done-which by the way she told her dear friend Jane that she knew that having her hair done would make Jane happy! That was Sister Robard, always thinking of everyone else and usually with some comical comment.
I’m finding it difficult to grasp that Robard has died. The suddenness of her passing has extinguished a light in my life. There won’t be any more conversations about the love we both had for the people of Gate of Heaven Parish and School or about the latest news she heard on TV or listening to her Irish music and the latest book on tape she just finished. I’ll miss her humor; I always had a happy heart when I left Robard’s room.
Sister Robard requested that there be no reflection or sharing of memories at the time of her funeral. But there were a few requests that she had. One request was to have a morning funeral, another was to wear a navy blue suit and lastly, to be buried in St. Patrick’s cemetery where her friend Jane could visit her. Those were easy requests to fulfill for her. But now I have to beg her forgiveness as I ask you to join with me during Sister Robard’s funeral Liturgy and in the days and months ahead to reflect on her very long life and her love for God and the Congregation as we listen to today’s readings and sing the hymns selected.
In a few minutes we will hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah “I know theplans I have in mind for you …When you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me.” Gradually over the last years of Robard’s life, she had to adjust to some physical limitation with her eyesight. It amazes me that practically every song we will sing this morning speaks about seeing, seeking , vision, a visible sign. Robard knew that our vision depends not only on our physical sight but also on our eyes’ Faith. We Walk by Faith not by Sight. Robard did not let her eyesight limitations define her. She saw with her eyes of Faith.
The first line in our reading from Phiippians was a prayer that Robard prayed for all of us. “I thank my God every time I think of you”. Thankfulness and gratitude were hallmarks of her life. I’m sure she’ll continue to “plead on our behalf”.
In our Gospel this morning, St. John tells us “eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. We give thanks to Sister Robard who by her teaching, especially her skill at teaching math, and the example of her life, shared her Faith and helped so many to know God and his son, Jesus Christ. All of our lives have been enriched by knowing Sister Robard.
It will take us some time to adjust to the suddenness of Robard’s death however we have the consolation of knowing that Robie’s life of Faith is done and now she beholds God in her full and endless sight.
Sister Robard, we celebrate and give thanks for your life as a Sister of St. Joseph.
You faithfully 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.”
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ