Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Motherhouse moments: Sister Death

Shortly before I left Boston, the provincial shared with us the news that one of our senior sisters, the feisty Sr Mary Nazarene (a.k.a. Snaz, Snazzy), was no longer able to tolerate the dialysis treatments she had been receiving for so many years that all the staff had fallen in love with her.  It was time for all of us to begin saying "Good bye."
Sr Fay and Snazzy.

I'm grateful I was able to share a meal with Sr Nazarene the evening before my departure, and to say "Arrivederci" on behalf of all the sisters in Chicago. "Get ready," I told her. "We're going to keep you very busy once you get to heaven." "Good!" she said, "Keep me busy!" Just over a week later, on this feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the Lord called her home. One of our first American vocations (entering just five years after the Daughters of St. Paul came to the US), she was 91.
Snazzy was kind of a roly-poly fixture in the motherhouse, serving as a math teacher for the high school aspirants, then (when I entered) in various services, such as cassette duplication (she didn't just copy cassette tapes, she made them, using enormous spools of magnetic tape) and parlor duty, where she kept track of phone calls, door bells and packages. Occasionally she was called on to wield her official seal as a Notary Public. In her later years (I mean in her late 60's and 70's) she was stationed in New York, and was sent hither and yon to help out in our smaller communities for a couple of weeks at a stretch, but she was always glad to come home to Boston.
The past week seems to have passed very slowly for Sr Nazarene. She kept asking when Jesus was going to come. I had been praying that the Lord would allow her direct passage to heaven, with no transit stops along the way, if you catch my drift. And it seems to me that this week of longing corresponds beautifully to the role of Purgatory, where we are simultaneously purified and perfected: our full gaze turned toward the Lord, finally recognized as the one and supreme "Good" of our lives. What better day to achieve that Good than the day which honors the Cross which claimed it for us?
Rest in peace, Snazzy dear. And get ready: we're going to keep you very busy.

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