A Strong Advocate ... Sister Cecilia Marie

Our CSJP Community will gather tomorrow for our Jubilee Celebrations in Bellevue, Washington.  But first, this morning, we will gather to say goodbye to one our most beloved Sisters, Cecilia Marie Gri, who passed away earlier this week.

There is so much you can say about this amazing Sister who would have turned 99 next month.  She was one of the most engaged, active, powerful and faithful women I have ever been honored to know.

When I first met Sister Cecilia Marie, she was preaching the homily ... at her 75th Jubilee ... at the age of 91.  And she broke open the word like nobody's business, preaching in a clear, strong voice in love and with a deep faith that shined through her and into everyone who listened. This picture is one I took from her 80th Jubilee.  She was the lector, and again in a strong voice she proclaimed the word of God for all to hear.

At our vigil service last night for Sister Cecilia Marie, we prayed the rosary, an important element of her prayer life, and shared stories.  Such wonderful stories! I shared my own story of Sister Cecilia Marie and her regular support for our ministry at the peace and justice center.  She was a regular donor, always sending a small donation with a lovely note.  In fact, she sent her last donation right before she moved up to our retirement center two months ago!

Sister Cecilia Marie is a model for us all.  She loved God and God's people and gave her all.  When she turned 90 in 2003, she wrote:  "I am involved in Parish ministry on a voluntary basis.  Since 1988 I have been coordinator of homebound ministry. I am also lay presider, eucharistic minister, parish librarian, leader of Vigil services for deceased parishioners, and a leader of the ecumencial prayer service at one of the retirement homes.  Every month for about ten years I write an article or two for our Parish newsletter.  On several occasions I have given a homily at Mass.  In summary, I am a 'jack-of-all-trades.'" Indeed. Keep in mind this was after 30+ years of teaching and 13 years working in one of our hospitals.

I just trolled my old blog posts for something I remembered writing after the first Jubilee celebration I attended, which was Sister Cecilia Marie's 75th.  At the celebration afterwards, a young priest friend of Sister Cecilia Marie shared this story.  I'll end my post with this re-post:

The youngish priest (YP) and Sister C (SC). were out visiting a sick parishioner. They shared the Eucharist and prayed with the gentleman and his family. While they were inside, it started snowing heavily outside. This posed a problem as the family lived at the bottom of a steep hill. They were worried they wouldn't get back up the hill, so YP borrowed some kitty litter that he spread out on the snow to create some traction. YP & SC said fairwell to the family and got in the car. The kitty litter helped a bit, but they were having a hard time making it up the hill. YP was driving and SC was sitting in the passenger seat. On the first failed attempt up the hill, SC started praying the rosary. On the second failed attempt up the hill, she started saying her Hail Mary's even faster. YP looked over worriedly at SC before the third attempt, and she said "Don't worry Father, the third time's a charm I'm sure." He looked over at SC and said, "I hope so Sister. You keep praying and I'll try one more time." So they did and almost made it to the top when they started to slip back down again. At this moment SC stopped saying her Hail Mary's and yelled emphatically, "Come on Mary, get out there and PUSH!!!!!." At which point the car spurted up to the top of the hill without any problem. YP ended the story by saying, "I knew Sister was a holy woman. I didn't realize she had a direct connection and could boss Mary around."

Thank you Sister Cecilia Marie for the gift of your life, love, strong intellect, courageous spirit, and generosity.  I know that you will be a strong advocate for our Sisters, for people in need, for our church and for our broken world.


Sueb said...

I absolutley love that story and Sister is going to be getting many requests for intercession from me!. Thanks, it made my day.
Sue in Seattle

Anonymous said...

That story is both touching and funny. She sounds like a very special woman.