April 6, 1919 – February 7, 2016
“Joy is the Echo of God’s Love within Us!”
Blessed Abbot Columba Joseph Marmion
This quote by Blessed Joseph Marmion resounds throughout our celebration of the life of Sister Stella Caramitros today. We can say without a doubt that the joy that Stella shared with her devoted family, her many friends and colleagues and with us, the Sisters of St. Joseph, reflected her love, as well as God’s love, for all of us.
I came to know Stella later in her life when I became her area councilor. All of you have known her for many more years than I, but this celebration expresses in Scripture and song the Stella I have grown to know and love. If we listen carefully to the readings and hymns that Stella planned for her funeral Liturgy, I think we will hear Stella speaking to us repeatedly in words like joy, love, song, praise, glory, rejoice, silence, and peace.
God gifted Stella with many talents. I understand she could repair anything that was broken. She could change the oil in a car and she prepared delicious meals that nourished the body. I was blessed to know and appreciate Stella’s more contemplative side which nourished her Soul. In Stella’s room there was a beautiful picture of the ocean hanging on the wall right before her eyes. If I recall correctly, Stella told me it was given to her by a member of the Irish Community. That picture was her focus for prayer. It reminded her about her life’s journey always in search of reaching the other side, her final destination – her everlasting home. There is a four lined poem that Stella wrote that helped me to interpret her understanding of the picture. The poem reads “Silence of mind. Peace of Soul. In another world God, the Goal.” God spoke to Stella in nature. Nature “silenced her mind” and gave “peace to her soul”. Many of her poems were the fruit of her prayer. She loved to recite poetry and was a prolific poet herself. The poem on the back cover of her Mass program is a poem Stella requested to be printed.
Stella also loved music; she loved to sing and never hesitated to share her gift of song. How many times has Stella sung the “Fields of Athanry” for you? Well, I heard it every time I was with her because you know – I’m Irish. As our Communion hymn reminds us Stella’s life now “flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation.” She hears “the real, though far off hymn that hails a new creation”- eternal life.
The first reading that Stella chose for her funeral is from the Book of Proverbs. An adaptation of this reading describes a worthy Sister of St. Joseph. It reads: “A worthy Sister of St. Joseph uses all her gifts and talents God has given her and works with loving hands. She reaches out her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy. The Sister of St. Joseph who loves God and loves the dear neighbor without distinction is to be praised. The reward for her hidden and self-emptying labors will be the deep joy and loving embrace she will receive as she enters the City of God.”* I think we all have a memory of when Sister Stella was a “worthy Sister of St. Joseph” to us.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a beautiful expression of thanks to the people of Philippi. I think it also speaks of Stella’s feelings of gratitude for her devoted family, her many friends, our CSJ Community and a remembrance of all of us in her prayer.
As we leave this chapel to bring Stella to her final resting place, we’ll sing “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! “I know that there was no shouting in Sister Stella’s room on Sunday afternoon but she was asking God to take her home. I imagine that when God welcomed Stella home, the joy that filled her generous, loving heart could not be contained here on earth any longer.
Stella, this is the day the Lord has made. We are glad and rejoice for you. Death has lost and all is new life as you continue to sing of the Glory of God for all eternity.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ
*(Adapted by Theresa LaMetterey, CSJ from Proverbs 31)