Reflection for Sister Glenna Raybell’s Wake

Reflection for Sister Glenna Raybell’s Wake
By Sister JoAnn Krebsbach
April 19, 2016

In tonight’s reading, when [Jesus] said to Peter the third time, “’Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ [Jesus] said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’”

Simon Peter’s response sounds a lot like Sister Glenna. She was a no-nonsense kind of person who meant what she said the first time she said anything. But Sister Glenna loved God and, indeed, “fed his sheep” in countless ways!

We all know that Glenna had strong feelings about her views on certain issues and was more than willing to share them. Even Father Morrisey, her former canon law teacher who was here recently, said, “Of course,” he remembered her and then added with a smile, “We didn’t always agree.”

Another example of Glenna sharing her definite views on an issue—probably political, was a time when Fr. Benedict was new to the University of Mary and I had invited him for lunch. We sat at a table with Sister Glenna who was keeping the conversation quite lively—and one-sided; Fr. Benedict just remained silent and calm, smiling every once in a while. The rest of us at the table were feeling tense and uncomfortable. When Sister Glenna became aware of our discomfort, she turned to Fr. Benedict, laughed and said, “You might have noticed, I have a lot of passion for this topic.” That broke the ice and we all relaxed and enjoyed the rest of lunch.

Under Sister Glenna’s sometimes tough exterior was a caring heart, especially for anyone in need or anyone she thought could use a little advice or encouragement. When Sister Glenna and I were living at St. Mary’s Convent, she decided we should be going for our evening walks up on Second Street where my parents lived. One time they were sitting out on the porch and we walked over and talked to them. She said that was being kind to my parents and I shouldn’t worry about breaking the rules. She was way freer about such things than many of us were.

Sister Glenna was always quite independent and spent a lot of time away from the monastery. She did great work wherever she went, but the time came for her to come home and that was hard on her, especially when she could no longer be active. It was then that Jesus’ words to Peter spoke to her, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

She did not like this but accepted it as best she could—sometimes cooperating better than other times.

Whenever I went up to see her Sister Glenna had a beautiful smile. She didn’t like any of us to stay too long, but was happy for visitors and always said, “Thank you for coming.”

When Sister Nicole and I went up on the day of election to share the news, she wasn’t totally clear, but she was pleasant and seemed to understand some of what we were saying—at least she responded in a positive way. As we began to say it was time to go, before we had a chance to give her the usual blessing, she reached out her hand and blessed us. It was so beautiful and spontaneous!

So, tonight, Sister Glenna, as we say our goodbyes, we leave you with our gratitude, our love and our blessing!


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