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Funeral Reflection for Sister Delora Schweitzer, OSB
Reflection for funeral of Sister Delora Schweitzer
Sister Nancy Miller, Prioress
August 29, 2013
Today we her Benedictine community, friends and family celebrate the life of Sister Delora. We are grateful for the gift of her presence on this earth for 98 years, 74 of those years as a Benedictine sister. She would say to all of us, but especially to you her siblings: Sister Rose, Sister Francis, Frances and Adam - that she loved you. You and we knew that. She delighted in being with you and all of us. She would want us to be happy for her. She believed with her whole heart that after her death, she would live with Jesus forever. That was her strong belief. That is what the readings and hymns she chose for this liturgy are all about – that she who was baptized into Christ Jesus, now lives with Him in eternal joy and happiness.
The hymns she chose are about joy, gratitude and praise of God. She would want us to truly celebrate and rejoice that she is now home with Jesus. Of course we will miss her dearly. She was such a faithful presence among us even in her last days. And she cared about us and was interested in what we were doing. She even cared about my African violet and came to my office often to make sure I watered it.
The day before her death, she said to Sister Joseph,” I am waiting for the Lord to take me home.” Monday morning Jesus came and took her to the heavenly kingdom. It was her lifelong heart’s desire.
Sister Delora was the third of 11 children born on a farm near Dodge, North Dakota. She was actually born in a sod house where her parents homesteaded. There were five boys and six girls in her family. They were and are a close knit family. She said her parents had a deep faith and love for God. Their faith, love of prayer and love of family had a strong influence on her. She credits them for nurturing and supporting her monastic vocation. She was happy to be a Benedictine sister. She loved this life dedicated to God and to God’s people. She relished the Benedictine way with its emphasis on common and personal prayer, living together in community and sharing one another’s joys, sorrows and challenges.
In an article for our community’s newsletter, Sisters Rose, Delora and Francis were asked about the secret to their youthful spirits and longevity and they said: “Community life and prayer brings peace. And we have lots of fun together.”
Another of Sister Delora’s great loves was teaching elementary grade school children. She taught elementary grades for 42 years mostly in Catholic schools in the Bismarck Diocese. She spent 14 years at Christ the King school in Mandan, as teacher, assistant principal and principal. When she retired the school board presented her with a plaque which read: “Where there is charity, there is God.”
This must have been a favorite inspirational quote of Sister Delora because the communion hymn she chose for this liturgy speaks of “where love and charity are found, God is there.” Sister Delora sought to abide in love and God was deep within her.
Small in stature but large in perseverance, Sister Delora inspired us as her health declined. Despite poor eyesight, hearing and walking ability, she persisted and did what she could − took care of plants, was faithful to community and family gatherings and kept up on events. She enjoyed people and wanted to be with us. We admired her for her ability to keep going on no matter what.
Sister Delora, we love you and miss you. We know and believe that you are now experiencing the newness of life, free from all suffering and pain. We rejoice and give thanks that you have been a part of our lives. You will live on in our hearts and in our memories forever.