journey home

When I was on my spy trip to New Jersey, I spent a very enjoyable half hour talking with Sister Ellen Mary Aherne. She was staying at the infirmary at east coast groovy sister hq while she recovered from a full knee replacement. Sr. Ellen Mary was a riot … she told us her vocation story in her Irish brogue which had been softened by years in New Jersey. I heard my story in her story. She was a "late" vocation, which probably meant she was in her 20's. But she had been in the real world where she'd been trained and worked as a nurse. She had a satisfying career and good friends, but there was something missing.

One day she was talking with a friend about that something that was really missing. She felt like God was calling her, but that she couldn't imagine herself living the restricted/traditional life of a nun. Her friend told her that she knew just the community for her! They were in America, had a lot of freedom and "drove their own cars." Now keep in mind, this was the 1950's. But my groovy sisters apparently had a reputation for being particularly groovy even back then! The rest as they say is history. When she met the Sisters, her calling started to make sense and she signed right up. Last year Sr. Ellen Mary celebrated her 50th jubilee as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace!

Earlier today I got an e-mail telling me that Sr. Ellen Mary died this morning. This was quite a shock for me. I was also really looking forward to many more good chats with her next year. One of the incredible things about this journey has been getting to know so many wonderful women and hearing their stories. But the reality of religious life these days is also that many of the Sisters are older, and God does call us all home eventually. I feel blessed that I had the chance to visit with her this Spring. I was going through a bit of a rough patch that day when I visited with her, wondering if I could do this. Hearing my story in her story was inspiring and comforting. Thank you Ellen Mary. Blessings on your continuing journey with God.


Paula said...

good story...worth pondering.thanks Susan.

see-through faith said...

Thank you for sharing this - and other groovy sisters' stories too. You are all heroes of faith and my faith is encouraged by little snippets like these.

be blessed

Lisa said...

Susan, loss is always difficult and each loss in unique in its own way. I had a similar experience with a Sister - whose name I knew - I started to get to know after she went to our retirement home and infirmary. An extraordinary ordinary woman, so down to earth, a great listener and a great sharer, and most of all a great pray-er. Even though she was 90, I looked forward to a long friendship. Now she is interceding for me and my intentions from her absolute and unending union with Jesus. I still wish I could take a ride to talk with her, but I am grateful too for the opportunities I had to share with her.

May these blessed women rest in peace and enjoy the full fruits of their selfless labors!