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Funeral Vigil Reflection for Sister Delora Schweitzer
August 28, 2013
….No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
There are different forms of service but the same Lord;
There are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
1 Cor 12:3-7
Our monastic profession includes three aspects or facets of our promise to God: stability, fidelity to the monastic life and obedience.
Stability: we stay with this community for the rest of our lives because we believe that, as St. Benedict states in the Rule; Christ may lead us all together to life everlasting. We are in this together for the long haul.
Fidelity to the monastic life: to live with these women, faithfully, day in and day out, seeking God through our common prayer, serving and honoring each other, in kindness and love. Our common life calls us to share our meals together, live our common values, extend hospitality, graciously accepting each other as we would welcome and receive Christ himself. We strive together to care for each other’s needs, contributing to the well-being of each person in community. Again, in the Rule, St. Benedict calls each of us to be the first to show respect to the other. He urges that we bear with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior.
Obedience for a Benedictine is to listen attentively for the voice of God in our prayer and lectio. Obedience is to listen attentively to ways God speaks to us through our prioress, our sisters, the church and other authorities to whom we owe allegiance as Christians and Benedictines. Obedience is following the regularity and rhythm of our life together, with each day’s prayer and work.
I make these comments to note that Sister Delora, faithful servant of Jesus and faithful follower of St. Benedict, lived our monastic life with steadfast commitment. The heart of monastic life is our common prayer. When we gather together to praise God we ask God’s blessing that the day may be made holy. We gather at prayer to renew our relationship with God. We believe that when we pray together we renew our relationship with each other as well. Sister Delora was faithful in her daily prayer practices. She, along with all our founding sisters, model in a profound way, fidelity to our common prayer, demonstrating St. Benedict’s mandate, “Let nothing be preferred to the work of God.”
I knew Sister Delora as a dedicated teacher and principal serving students and the faculty alike. She guided and directed with encouragement and support. They trusted her interest, concern and sincere attention to their needs. The pastors, with whom she worked, Msgr. Galowitsch and Father Kuhn, appreciated her professional dedication to Catholic education at Christ the King School. Frequently I meet adults who will ask about Sister Delora. They remember her as teacher and/or principal at Christ the King School in Mandan. They remember her as a kind, gentle, patient leader of teaching and learning. Sister Delora remembered her students also. I will miss her observation of those students she served, as she knew them well and shared her memories of them as students. Most of all she enjoyed being with students and faculty. She loved being a teacher.
We just heard the words from St. Paul, “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.” Sister Delora was quick to recognize the special gifts of her faculty and students and encouraged them to develop those gifts. Sister Delora knew the message of St. Paul: to each individual the manifestation of the spirit is given for some benefit. She fostered learning in such a way as to help each person discover their God given talents that they might recognize God’s blessing to them.
It is a blessing and privilege to have known and lived with Sister Delora, a gentle and quiet woman who welcomed others with gracious kindness. In her retirement years she exhibited that patience St. Benedict speaks of in Chapter 72 of the Rule, “That we bear with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior.” She was aware of her own limitations. She was patient with her own weaknesses, and that regard for herself became the touchstone of her regard for others. In this way she was a witness to Jesus Christ, our model and guide for living the Christian and monastic life.
Sister Delora lived her monastic profession to the fullest of her ability. When we Sisters of St. Benedict make our profession we sing, “Receive me, O Lord, according to your promise and I shall live, do not disappoint me in my hope.” What a gift and blessing it is to know that Sister Delora’s hope is now realized that God has taken her for her word; the Lord Jesus receives her as He promised and now welcomes her to eternal joy and peace.
~Sister Susan Lardy, OSB