We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe
By S. Georgia Kitt
“You must always keep a holy communion with those whom we have loved and lost. For despite the days and distances that separate us, we shall one day meet.” - St. Elizabeth Seton
At this time 10 years ago the SC Congregation was in the throes of living the mystery of life and death, experiencing the deaths of 13 members of the Family of Charity, 11 Sisters and two Associates, within a six-week period, March 1-April 18, 2008. It almost seemed as though the ‘highway to Heaven’ needed traffic monitoring. It was a time when grief and loss were great.
S. Barbara Hagedorn, SC president at the time, recalled, “Whenever one of our Sisters or Associates dies we feel the loss, but when there are so many in so short a time, the grief from one death is still so raw; then there was another and another. Multiple emotions surface.”
The Leadership Team at the time sent a letter to the Community encouraging the sharing of grief while giving greater attention to one another, conscious of the fact that we suffer these losses together.
It was a time unprecedented. We called on the assistance of many during those weeks, helping to minister, inform, console, remember and bury. As then Director of Sisters Services S. Cookie Crowley shared, “I never could have done it without a great team of Sisters with whom to work and many others offering their services. I never want to have another six-week period like tha again.”
Literally, by family name they went from A to Z (Alvin to Zink). They were mentors, innovators, artists, healers, friends, nurses, educators, counselors, administrators and leaders – all known and valued by God. They were women of compassion, poetry, healing, music, humor, adventure, risk-takers, pray-ers, possessing countless gifts among them. They came from West to East, ‘God’s country’ and all places in between. God called them young, 58 and 60, as well as old, 98 and 99; they taught us about living even in their dying.
The SC women who went to God in those weeks were: Sisters Francis Adelaide Zink, Mary Rumler, Lucia Mao, Virginia Ann Temple, Evelyn Marie Elwell, Zita Burke, Mary Assunta Stang, Sandy Alvin, Lynne Mancinelli, Rita Agnese Schoenherr, Mary Eudora Corbin and Associates Jeanne O’Brien and Pat Felix.The words of Elizabeth Seton brought us comfort then and now – “Each of you must share in the joys and sorrows, the troubles and the peace, the recreation, the rest and toils of each other. If we must be separated here, at least let us enjoy the reunion of eternity.”