by Sr. Mary Thill, OSF
November sits on my shoulder as I write this blog and I am thinking of all those who have gone before me into paradise/heaven/the Kingdom of God.
When I taught religion and CCD classes in my early teaching days, I used to tell the kids that “Heaven is where God is, and God is everywhere, so heaven must be right where we are now.” I find myself saying this even these days as I remind myself and others that God is in us and among us so we must draw on this belief to get through the difficult and challenging times and thank and praise God during the “good” times.
This thought brings me to the many people who have touched my life and gone to God and just “Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives,” as Henri J.M. Nouwen said. Who has inspired you to be who you are today? And, what is the story or example that makes you want to honor her or his precious memory?
My maternal Grandmother, Catherine Urbanski, taught me at a very young age that “old people are people” and I considered her my best friend since I was about seven years old. I stayed with her and Grandpa in the summer and after he died I used to go to be with my grandma almost every weekend until I entered the convent at 13. She could outwalk me, let me help her make delicious rolls, and allowed me to choose anything I wanted when we went to the store. Candy and comic books were some of my favorites. I feel I honor her whenever I interact with an older person in a friendly and helpful way.
Our Sister Michaeline helped me to find artistic gifts I wasn’t aware of when I had her as an art teacher as a Freshman at St. Clare Academy. She also taught me a lesson in integrity. When I did not hand in the very first assignment in English class, she kept her word that anyone who did that would not be considered part of the class at the time. She was a woman of her words. In her later years at Rosary Hall, she taught me how to get through difficult tasks and to rise above any physical and spiritual challenges by supporting my efforts with her kind words and appreciation even in the little things.
Since I’ve been working in the SOSF Archives I’m very aware that we have seen 417 Sisters (as of this writing) go to God during the 106 years of our existence as the Sylvania Franciscans. I hope and pray that each of us can recall some of the ways that the wonderful women we shared life and ministry with have influenced and continue to influence our lives in so many ways. I like to think that we best honor them by sharing our memories of our interactions with them especially during All Saints Day and All Souls Days as well as on the anniversary of each Sister’s death. This can also hold true for the many relatives and friends that we can honor.
For those of us living on campus or nearby, you may want to spend some time in Serra Hall among the 522 photos of our members and praise and thank God for bringing us together in this Sylvania Franciscan community.