Entered Life: February 7, 1942
Entered Religious Life: September 8, 1959
Entered Eternal Life: March 24, 2016
"Unless a Grain of Wheat …"
In our IBVM Constitutions it says
"A great love of God
An attitude of openness to all good works
A freedom to refer all to God
And a readiness to follow the way
Of justice and sincerity
In lightness of spirit
This is the charism that Mary Ward desired
To shine through all our words and works"
Jean embodied the Constitutions. She was definitively a Mary Ward woman.
Did the attributes mentioned in the constitution shine through Jean? Oh, my goodness, that didn't even need to be asked. They radiated from her. Jean, in the course of her life, grew so beautifully into these attributes. She embodied them.
In asking others who knew Jean for their comments, it is so clear that they saw Jean as loyal, steadfast, committed, creative in an organized way with the soul of an artist, supportive, and available. She was attuned to others and was there whenever needed. Jean was love in action, wrapping a cloak of love around each of us. You couldn't help but love her back, even if you didn't always agree with her.
In the church, in religious life, we talk about accepting diversity. That particular gift in Jean is what I experienced. Jean had a math background. I'm an artist. She thought in straight lines with each step leading to the next. I think in circles. She used to jokingly refer to me as one of those ethereal dreamy ones. Did she dismiss me? No, Jean accepted the different gifts in each of us, even if they drove her crazy every now and then. She loved each of us in her way and allowed us to love in our way.
Jean understood that her service - in the church, in the Institute, with her family, with her sisters and with her friends - was a direct outcome of her God relationship...a relationship that was dynamic.
In the hospital when things got so critical for Jean she was asked "What do you want to happen at this point?" Her response was "Whatever God wants." Then she added "Take care of each other. " She called out to Mary Ward several times looking for guidance and asking Mary Ward to come to be with her.
Jean is gone from us now but that spirit of hers that infected us all will continue to motivate us, to inspire us, to draw us on. She was a Northern California woman, and so proud of it, from a gold-dredging town with lots of sun who had a heart of gold. She loved the sun.
In the last homily she gave she left us with an image that captures her. She said that as the sunflower follows the sun, she too, follows the Son, with a different spelling of sun. And so, Jean, we thank you for who and how you were with us. And we celebrate you.
—Arlene Ashack, IBVM