Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sister Virginia ~ Footprints on my Heart

Sr. Virginia on her 60th Jubilee as a Daughter of Charity with Sr. Jean

Reflection by Sister Jean Rhoads, DC
about Sister Virginia Cotter (2/24/1926-1/12/14)

Whether you called Sister Virginia - "Sister," "Sis," "Gin," "Ginny” or "Virginia," I think the best title for her is friend.  In Scripture, Sirach refers to friendship as a treasure (Sirach 6:14) and that certainly fits who Sister Virginia has been in my life...

Sister Virginia was a wonderful person with whom to share community life!
  She had a deep faith and a great sense of humor, was always other-centered, and would roll up her sleeves to help those in need.  I remember when other Sisters' families would come to visit, she was the one out in the kitchen cooking breakfast, doing the dishes, lending the car, etc.  Sister Virginia would initiate simple parties in the house - just imagine a bunch of Sisters on Halloween dunking for apples to get some special prize, or on Christmas, stomping on red balloons in order to pop them and get "the green money" hidden inside! 

I clearly remember Sister Virginia’s sensitivity and generosity towards persons who were poor. As a hospital administrator for many years, she took the time to make daily rounds and thank the leaders and staff for living the mission.
  Her presence enhanced joy and commitment to everyone’s service.  Sister travelled often and would seek out people who cleaned the airport bathrooms or waiting areas.  I remember watching her look into their eyes, thank them for their service, and slip them a $20 bill.  How respectful and beautiful!  Sister Virginia referred to this as her 'airport ministry.'

Sister Virginia also was known for confusing one name with another. An example would be when another sister’s own brother Ted visited us for a week in Pensacola.
  Sister Virginia kept calling him "Fred" or "Ed".  We whispered his correct name to her and just a few minutes later, Sister asked, "Fred, what time are you joining us for dinner?"

An amazing hospital leader, Sister Virginia had deep insight, broad vision, the ability to see the big picture, and, most importantly, the gift to build relationships.
  A former board member once introduced Virginia at a hospital event with the usual formal titles of "Chair of the Board, Administrator/CEO," and then he added, "Sister Virginia is really the sweetheart of Sacred Heart Hospital."  One of her former chief operating officers emailed me and wrote that Sister Virginia was a compassionate and genuine person with whom he enjoyed working and how much he appreciated her wisdom, especially when he went through a particularly difficult situation. “The Daughters of Charity have lost a treasure."

On a personal level, Sister Virginia has been my friend, mentor and spiritual guide for almost 30 years.  She was a strong support to me when I was a new nurse, when my brother and mother died, when I helped to establish a free clinic in Fayetteville, NC, when we Daughters were leaving our mission and ministry in Pensacola, FL, when I relocated to our new Provincial House in St Louis, and the list could go on...  I'll miss her wonderful advice of "Leave it in the Lord's hands" and her frequent voicemail messages, "Hi, Jean!  Just a quick call to let you know I'm praying for you.  Love you!" 

"Some people come and go quickly in our lives. Others leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same."  (Flavia Weedn)  Good bye, Gin, my very dear friend. Love you, too!

1 comment:

  1. Sister Virginia was head of DePaul Medical Center when my mother, Norma McAnnally, was her assistant. I found a picture today of Sister with Susan Ford when she was Queen Azalea in 1976, I am going to send this picture to Emmitsburg for your archives. My mother retired from DePaul, I retired from DePaul and my husband, Rick Hartman, is still working. We are so sorry to hear of her passing. I was thinking of her today. Jeanne Hartman