Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A death in the "family"...

Sister Mary Paul McLaughlin, OSB, died last night. A Benedictine Sister of Ridgely, MD, Sister Mary Paul gave her life to GOD in the ministry of community and in service to the Gospel. The sisters of Saint Gertrude's Monastery, her family and friends are grieving this sudden and tragic loss. The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia send healing love and prayers to our sisters on the Eastern Shore.

It’s a very small monastic world. As my interactions with other American Benedictines became more frequent in initial formation and, in recent years through ministry, this sense of the scope and breadth of our monastic life has grown. Our study in Rome has only confirmed this reality and expanded my experience of the global monastic community. I have friends in Kenya now - Australia and Tanzania, too. It has forever changed the way I watch the evening news and shifted the boundaries of my personal prayer.

This death was very close to home. There are three monasteries in the Mid-Atlantic region: Ridgely, MD, Baltimore, MD, and Bristow, VA. The sisters in these houses are like our “cousins.” We travel to share the joy of profession rites, anniversary celebrations and to help bury our dead. Our prioresses meet regularly in an effort to share our resources and offer mutual support and encouragement. Though we are three autonomous houses, we are, in a very real sense, family.

Sister Mary Paul was prioress of Saint Gertrude's Monastery for many years. She has since served as Oblate Director and Vocation Director – and in this capacity she has come to be my friend and amma. There is no way to express the magnitude of this loss – for her community, family and friends. There is, however, a collective gasp of shock and a torrent of tears for Mary Paul among Benedictine sisters across North America. Her gentle spirit, easy laughter and faithful monastic heart will be sorely missed. Through the intercession of Saint Benedict, may Sister Mary Paul remain with all who love her and, by the grace of our loving GOD, may she know the inexpressible delight of love that awaits those who prefer nothing to Christ. Sister Mary Paul has finished her monastic journey. May her good zeal be her legacy to those of us who have many miles to go…

- Sister Vicki