October 4, 1928 - May 15, 2014
Erma Bombeck is credited for saying when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say to God, I used everything you gave me. As I reflect on the Virginia’s life, she could definitely say, “I used all that you gave me, God”.
This morning Virginia’s prayer and liturgy contains words from the Constitution of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, images, readings and songs chosen by her because they revealed to her God’s ever faithful, all enduring, transformative love. For nearly 67 years Gin believed that as a woman of the Church she was called to continue the transforming mission of Christ; that she was entrusted with the mission of reconciliation made manifest through the witness of her life and in service to the dear neighbor. As a Sister of Saint Joseph committed to the mission of Jesus, she believed the words of our CSJ Constitution,” our prayer like our ministry and vowed life in community requires humility, and the courage to let ourselves be emptied by God, that we might be filled with love, a love that flows out to one another and to those whose lives we touch” and she lived these words with faithfulness, joy, perseverance, and love.
Virginia Marie Murray began her life’s journey almost 85 years ago on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi; perhaps the reason why she was such a dog lover, and delighted in sunrises, sunsets, designs in the clouds and time at the ocean. From her parents she, with Claire, Don and Dot, experienced the meaning of a strong faith life, love of family and friends, laughter, responsibility, and from her earliest days the joy of music in one’s life, and much more. These values were the seeds sown in the fertile soil of her soul that enabled Virginia to be the woman she would become.
Upon graduating from Girls Catholic High School (she loved saying that) Virginia entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph. That year 1947, she along with 40 other “lovely young ladies”, embarked on new phase of her ever evolving life.
Francis deSales said and I paraphrase, there is nothing so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength. I think these words could describe Virginia who, for many years taught the very young, inspiring, loving, listening, and encouraging them with a love for learning that would endure. Strength and gentleness.
When Virginia felt that her time in the classroom was drawing to an end, she discerned her next steps and determined to respond to the ever changing needs of the church and of the world, so with dauntless determination she was accepted at Emmanuel College and received her degree Clinical Pastoral Ministry. She discovered that she had a real passion for this new ministry; here Gin truly lived out the meaning of relationship being at the heart of mission, she found her nitch. Virginia would often say “I loved what I did and was good at it” and indeed she was.
For more than 25 years, Marie Patrice and I shared the awesome gift of life with Virginia and by extension with her family. We grew to know each of them and of her unconditional love for them; how she worried about them, rejoiced with them and was so proud of them. We also came to know of Donald’s Sunday afternoon ritual-pick up of Gin, perhaps Helen and Bea, to go for a ride and maybe ice cream and then return home.
In 2009, when Virginia’s health was declining and it was obvious that she needed more assistance than what Marie or I were able to provide, Virginia moved to her new home at Bethany, first to the 5th Floor and eventually to the 3rd floor. This was a difficult transition for her, but one she grew to accept with courage, openness and grace.
Until recent months, with God’s grace at work within her, Virginia was able to continue her personal ministry…of visiting residents, writing letters, making phone calls, being the compassionate listener, friend and spiritual confidant. It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank the staff at BHCC for encouraging and providing Virginia with the loving tender care she received while on the 5th and 3rd floors.
The readings for today speak of relationship- of friendship-of being called and chosen -and of being loved. During her lifetime Virginia overcame many obstacles and was well aware of the words of the prophet Isaiah ….Virginia, she heard, you are redeemed by God, called by name, precious and loved. We rejoice with Virginia who now celebrates her new life with God, her parents, her sister Claire and her dear friend S. Irene Good (Bea).
Each of us has our own memories of Virginia. These are gifts that help us recall how our lives are connected in ever widening circles of relationship. I invite Bob Conlon Virginia nephew to share his reflections
Virginia, we are grateful for the gift of your life among us and rejoice with you knowing that you experience the fullness of life in God’s loving embrace. You have used all that God has given you. Go in Peace my friend.
Given by: Roseann Amico, CSJ
May 20, 2014