Sister Mary Ann was one of the first Sisters I met when I visited St. Mary-on-the-Lake for a vocation retreat in 2004. I stayed overnight and I remember clearly her stopping by my room to make sure that I had everything I needed. She was always making sure that folks had what they needed, quietly, behind the scenes with a knowing (and I think ultimately mischevious) twinkle in her eye. It's so very hard to imagine life at St. Mary's without her shuffling around or sitting in the dining room drinking her tea or coffee, observing the goings on.
Yet her presence I know will continue, just in new and different ways. One of those will be her continued prayerful presence. The email I received today said that she recently told one of the Sisters that she would be going to Rome for the Canonization of Kateri Tekawitha. And as the email said, now she shall! Which is only fitting.
Let me explain. In 2006 when I was a candidate, I remember getting this email on our CSJP prayer listserv from Sister Mary Ann:
Please pray for my grandnephew, 6 year old Jacob Finkbonner and his parents. Jacob has a tissue destroying infection after a face injury which persists even after several surgeries. Also, kindly ask Kateri Tekawitha if she will help us with her prayers in this difficult case.
If you follow such things, Jacob is the little boy who was healed from what the doctors otherwise felt was a hopeless case leading (finally) to the canonization of Kateri Tekawitha. Sister Mary Ann's family are members of the Lummi Nation. Jacob had a flesh eating disease that the doctors at Seattle Children's Hospital could not stop. His parish priest, knowing that the family and community had a devotion to Blessed Kateri, asked the local community to pray for her intercession. Sister Mary Ann of course asked our CSJP community for prayers, which I clearly remember sending up to heaven after receiving the email. Another CSJP, Sister Julie Codd, has ministered with the native American community for many years. She was able to obtain a relic of Kateri from a Sister who works at the Tekawitha conference who happened to be traveling to Seattle. The family held the relic to Jacob's body as they prayed for the intercession of Blessed Kateri. His prognosis was grim and the doctors did not know what to do. After the visit with the relic, he improved and the infection stopped spreading. Jacob is doing well today.
Next week, Blessed Kateri will become Saint Kateri. The Finkbonner family will be in attendance, as will Sister Julie Codd as the Seattle Archbishop's delegate. And now, Sister Mary Ann will be there in spirit, looking on with a twinkle in her eye, however such things work in the after life.
An amazing story. An amazing woman. Thank you Mary Ann for welcoming me that first night, for welcoming me every time I saw you since, for your prayers, your presence, and your love for the CSJP Community, the Church, God and God's people.