Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Remembering Sister B

The following are excerpts from the homily for Sister Beatrice Wise, D.C., at her memorial mass in Baltimore by Father Paschal Molino, O.S.B.

When asked to describe Sister Beatrice to someone it was a nearly impossible task, but then I began to ponder how to best describe her. I thought long and hard about it and I thought maybe the very best way to describe her was to pray the 23rd Psalm.

Psalm 23 reminds me totally of Sister Beatrice as it is a song of affirmation... It is a song of comfort in a time of grief, a reminder of when things look darkest that God is with us and cares for us as a shepherd cares for sheep. Sister B...sure was a bearer of all those things.

Sister B was certainly affirmation to those who needed to be affirmed.

Comfort to so many in their time of grief...her presence at a wake or funeral brought great comfort to so many. If you were in the office and overheard her on the phone she would give out pearls of hope and comfort to the forlorn, the sick, those in mourning.

In times of stress she restored our hope. There she was with her bottle of holy water she kept on her desk, her jar of coins when someone said something crude, rude or uncomplimentary–"That will cost you a quarter," she would say–and then you'd get sprinkled.

One day I gave her $5 as a downpayment and I said, "Get ready because I am really very upset today over this mess." Out came the holy water and she said, "Just sit right down here and we will pray about it."

I can say Sister Beatrice was certainly a good shepherd to those whom she ministered. If she knew someone was in distress, she was tireless in pursuing a solution or assistance for that person. When we would go over to church for noon day prayer each day, she would recite a litany of folks in need who needed prayer. She kept a list day to day.

Sister Beatrice had a truly close relationship with our Lord and his Blessed Mother. She always wore her Miraculous Medal and promoted devotion to our Blessed Lady. Comforter of the afflicted, hope of sinners, she knew that closeness to God and brought it with her to those she dealt with each and every day. When you sat and talked with her you thought you were the only other person in the world and she was truly interested in you and she could feel for you and with you when you were down or just needed a shoulder to cry on.

I certainly will be remiss if I overlooked the fact that as a good shepherd, Sister B was interested in not only the spiritual side of things, she was very much into the human side of things–her great love of nature. When we hear of green pastures, we could easily switch to the green of the baseball field. Oh, how she loved those Orioles. Her collection of memorabilia from the Orioles took up more than 20 feet of our office wall and all around her desk. Then there was Cape May beach, especially the ocean and swimming...the great stories of her swimming, her great love of the outdoors. How she would relate her evenings on the second floor back porch of her room on Alto Road and how she loved the peace and beauty of that place. There the house was built on a hill–when sitting on that porch she was up in the trees.

There are always going to be challenges, perhaps none greater than the loss of a loved one–our earthly companions, the ones who have walked most closely with us in this world. When things were not going well you can be sure B was there right up front defending someone in trouble or someone having a bad day.

Now I'd like to read a few lines from Sister Beatrice's autobiography:

One example of the great gifts this ministry brings is the following: I had the privilege of visiting with a Seminarian and parish nurse for one of our needy, handicapped parishioners. She (the parishioner) had no tongue, therefore she could not talk. A stroke had prevented her from writing and her sight was rapidly declining. We visited her and comforted her by our presence, prayed with her and gave her the Eucharist. The nurse gave her a flu shot. Then in the tiny room we all joined hands and danced in a circle to the tune of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Are there any gifts equal to that gift? Why am I filled with gratitude!

What more can I say but that we give thanks to God for the life and service Sister Beatrice gave to each of her many venues of service with such joy and hope, and for all those she touched and by whom she was touched in her 76 or so years as a Daughter of Charity. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sister B, we love you and now we call on you as another of God’s angels to watch over us from above.

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