December 21, 2008

Not Just Another Dollar at the Home

It was a cold January morning and I was tucked warm in my bed. I looked up at my clock when I heard the phone ring. It was 5:00 a.m. The next thing I remember is hearing my mother’s footsteps coming toward my bedroom. How many mornings did I remember this repeated scene in my life. “Marilyn, Sister M. Timothea is on the telephone and needs to speak to you.” My sister, Anita, in the other bed went under her covers and mumbled, “I am glad it is you this time and not me.” I pleaded with my mother, “Tell her I am sick, tell her I was out late last night and you cannot wake me up, tell her anything, but that I am not going to work today.” My mother, with her kind but serious voice, said, “It is your decision, but you must speak to Sister M. Timothea yourself.” I crawled out of my warm, safe bed and answered the telephone. “Hello, Sister M. Timothea . . . Yes, I was sleeping . . . Oh, it is not a problem for me to go in to work today. Thank-you. I will see you soon.” Before I hung up the phone, she said, “Marilyn, we cannot live without you and you cannot live without us.” Ha, I thought, just try me. I think I may be able to make it without you.

The future Sr. M. Anne and her mother.
I reluctantly got dressed and headed out to the Mother of Good Counsel Home for “another day, another dollar.” It was never just “another dollar.” Something attracted me there which now I can only believe was the hand of God leading me to the Community that I would love and understand through the Sisters at the Home. The reverence and care they gave to the residents edified me and I never questioned the value they placed on every human being, no matter what the condition or state of life.

My memories of the Sisters are numerous and valuable. The Sisters were as joyful as they were hard-working. When I worked the evening shift, I remember sneaking out on the second floor balcony, peaking over the side, and watching the Sisters. They were sitting outside in a circle, laughing, and tossing a ball to each other as they shouted out numbers.

It was not always serious on the floor either. There was an actual ranking of goods that took place within the structure of the floors. Sister M. Saloma always managed to find cake and serve it to us high school girls, unbeknown to Sister M. Timothea or at least we were to take the sacred oath never to tell we ate cake in the back room.

Sundays were special at the Home. We made sure that the residents were dressed in their Sunday best for morning Mass and for their visitors in the afternoon. Sister M. Saloma and Sister M. Timothea always made sure that I attended the 9:30 a.m. Mass whenever I worked the entire weekend.

When I entered the Home for the Open House on November 23, 2008, it was hard to believe I was in the same building. Four hundred other people and I came to see the great transformation of this old and faithful building. It was a palace for the poor and the most vulnerable of our society. No sacrifice was too great to make for these people and the Sisters banded together to accomplish this dream with their prayers and works.

Sr. M. Timothea during the Mother of Good Counsel Home's Open House

I realized that it was here at the Mother of Good Counsel Home that I encountered the joy, love, and sacrifice of our Sisters in their vocations. Their example was strong enough for me to be drawn to give my very life for what they stood for in their Thuine Franciscan spirit. I did not stand alone in this conviction. Other Sisters as well found their vocation at the Home. This Open House was more than a celebration for me; it was a deepening of the profound truth that the spirit of our deceased Sisters is being carried on by the Sisters who work at the Mother of Good Counsel Home today. The words of Sister M.Timothea ring true in my ears, “Marilyn, we cannot live without you and you cannot live without us.”

- by Sr. M. Anne, FSGM

5 comments:

Marilena said...

that is beautiful! what a heart warming story!

Donna said...

Dear S. M Anne,
What an inspirational story. We truly don't always know at the time how God reaches out to us through others. Only He can see around corners. Thank you for sharing your story. Donna

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister M. Anne,
What a lovely story.
What work do you do for your Community? Do you now work at the Home?
Did your sister follow you to the convent?
How old were you when you entered?
Did you have to go to school or right to work?
Where's your "now" picture? :)
Thanks for sharing!
a grateful reader

Anonymous said...

You will never know how much I laughed when I read your story! I also worked at Mother of Good Counsel while in high school (who knows, maybe we knew each other then but that was back in the
1980's so I'm probably a lot older than you!) and I ALSO got the early morning phone calls! If Sr. Timothea didn't put on enough guilt, my MOTHER added to the mix - "How can you not go in? They must need you." I learned MANY valuable skills there, most importantly a compassion for others and a love of nursing which has followed me in my 23 year history (and counting) of being a registered nurse!

Thanks for the laugh and stroll down memory lane.

Betsy

1 Franciscan Way said...

January 14, 2009

Dear Grateful Reader,

I am glad that you enjoyed my story. Here are my answers to your questions:

1. I presently live at our Provincial House, St. Francis Convent, in Alton, Illinois. I work in our Adoration Chapel office, recruiting new members for the Legion of One Thousand. This is a spiritual organization. The members pledge to make a visit each week to Jesus in our Adoration Chapel. I also work in Advancement, that is, raising money for our Community.

2. I worked at the Home for three months as a novice on mission, and helped out in the office for six months as a Professed Sister.

3. My sister Anita did not become a Sister. She got married in 1979. She is still happily married with three daughters.

4. I entered our Community on August 17, 1974, when I was 19 years old. I had completed two years of college.

5. After entering, I was a postulant for one year, then a novice for two years. After my First Profession, I finished my college education. Before I entered, I was in pre-med. As a Sister, I obtained my degree in theology and was also certified to teach English. I later added Math to my certification.

6. Perhaps one day I will send you a current photo!!

United in Christ,
Sister M. Anne, FSGM