Entered Life: Aug 2 ,1934
Entered Religious Life: September 7, 1952
Entered Eternal Life: Jan 12, 2022
“Into Your Hands”
Into thy hands… This was Marilynn’s motto, her way to live, her hope, her gift, and, finally, her surrender.
When Marilynn taught Kindergarten at St. John Vianney in Northlake I taught singing for her class. There was a Joe Wise song, Close Your Eyes, a riddle of sorts. The answer to the riddle was “It’s my hand. Grab ahold and now let’s dance!” She loved it. The kids loved it, and we sang and danced almost every class. I imagine Marilynn’s last surrender was to take the hand of God. God said, “It’s my hand! Grab ahold and now let’s dance!”
The first reading talks of the Valiant woman. How were these virtues cultivated in Marilyn’s life? She worked in her father’s meat store, welcoming, serving and remembering customers. She majored in home economics and used those skills to sew clothes, prepare delicious meals, manage the care of house. Wherever she lived in community she was able to put all of these skills to great use while living and serving in the Chicago area and in Detroit.
Family was always hugely important to Marilyn. She was known to make costumes and clothing for family members, even making the wedding dress for at least one of her nieces. Family gatherings and parties were a must. Later, letters and visits and photos from family meant the world to her. Sr. Julie mentioned that she would sometimes take an album or a set of loose pictures, smiling and laughing as she toured through the family.
Though shy and humble, she could be hostess and cheerful support. She once said to me she wasn’t a talker, but that the work she did for the sisters and her family was her way to express and to live her love.
Another song that Marilynn had the kindergarteners learn was “God Loves a Cheerful Giver” by Miriam Therese Winter. It suited her, and it suited her sense of being like Jesus. One of the pictures on her wall at Resurrection was that of the Laughing Jesus. One of her side activities many years ago was being a clown, wearing a big smile, opening her arms to greet all who needed a smile, a hug, a cheerful message. This week, one of the Caregivers at RLC said that Marilynn’s smile was always welcoming. She didn’t complain, and she thanked them for anything they did. The Cheerful Giver song ends “when the odds add up against you, it’s time to stop and sing. Praise God, to praise Him is a joyous thing”.
The Gospel today talks of Jesus welcoming the children. “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
Marilynn loved little children! She opened the first kindergarten at Northlake and used her many gifts to open the little ones to joy and life and learning. She taught those skills that, if all adults practiced, the world would be a better place. Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, listed some of these as sharing, being kind to one another cleaning up after themselves. He listed: Don’t hit; don’t take things that belong to others; say you’re sorry; wash your hands before eating; flush; take a nap every afternoon. Warm cookies and milk are good for you. This list goes on, but that’s what Marilynn taught the kids through math, reading, religion, science, art and music.
Speaking of naps…For 2 summers in the 70’s I went with Marilynn and Mary Ann White to Bay Mills, a reservation outside Sault Ste. Marie. In the mornings she taught the very youngest about God and kindness. Later she often cooked dinner. But in the afternoon she often took a nap. Some afternoons when she was napping, children would come to see if she would collect wild strawberries with them. She always got up, welcomed them and joined them. In many ways she was one of them. No strawberries ever found their way to the table but everyone was smiling.
The second reading says: The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But this certainty does not always mean it feels good walking with God. Marilynn lived with pain for many years, at least since the late 70’s. Joint and back pains, sadness and loss of family members challenged Marilynn frequently. But the closing of that second reading says: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
At this mass we come this table. We remember and give thanks. We proclaim the paschal mystery that Christ suffered, died, and rose, which includes the truth that Christ is here, alive and well. Like Marilynn, we come to this table to be renewed in energy, to be grounded in faith, to be a community and to be a blessing for the world.
Into thy hands… This was Marilynn’s motto, her way to live, her gift, and, finally, her surrender. It is no longer her hope… it is her certainty.
Homily from Celebration of Life Mass, January 18, 2022