May the Angels Lead You Into Paradise
This morning we laid our Sr. Mary Anthony to rest in the monastery cemetery after the Funeral Mass celebrated by Fr. Kieran Fergus, OP, our chaplain, and Fr. Frank Maoine, one of our confessors. It was a cloudy day with rain threatening but the angels held it off until after we processed to the house.
Below are some photos. We chant Psalm 19 going to the cemetery and Psalm 25 returning to the choir. Amazingly despite dealing with the stairway and the procession not always being together we usually manage to sing the doxology right when we are all back to our stalls. As the sisters bow profoundly singing the doxology one can't help be reminded that our vocation of praise and adoration does not cease with death. In point of fact, our whole life, even a life as long as Sr. Mary Anthony's, is just a practice for the life of eternal praise and love!
Some of you have asked about Sr. Mary Anthony. In our Fall newsletter we will share some more photos and information but here is a little bit for now:
Sr. Mary Anthony of the Precious Blood, OP was born Ruth Ann Tickerhoff on March 11, 1917 in South Fork, PA but later the family moved to Georgia. She was a bouncing 14 pound baby! As a small child her older sister died at the age of five and as Sr. Mary Anthony used to tell the story, little Ruth, the youngest, was distraught and wanted to be buried with her sister. From then on Sr. Mary Anthony always expressed a desire for death but our Lord had other plans for her and kept her on earth for 93 years!
Ruth entered the Sisters of the Holy Child but had to leave as a postulant because of the hearing loss in one ear. Sister learned of our monastery while she was living with her sister and entered on July 2, 1943. She made profession on February 13, 1945.
Sister Mary Anthony was very talented in many areas. She had a lovely singing voice and served as chantress. However, it was her expertise in the bakery and kitchen that was her claim to fame in our monastery! She taught generations the secrets of great baking and loved to make special desserts for the community and guests. When she was in charge of maintenance the workmen loved her as she would spoil them with homemade cakes and brownies often bringing them right out to them in the yard.
Sister served as novice mistress for a short time and also mistress of lay sisters. She served in nearly every area of the house: procuratrix, sacristan, infirmarian, librarian, printer, gardener. Her dad gave her a 6HP Rototiller in 1964 and we still use it!
Sister was very photogenic and the official "model" for vocation booklets, etc. and we have a large poster of her that was used as part of an exhibit at the Seton Hall University Vocation Fair in the late 1950's. In her later years she would do everything to avoid having her photo taken!
Sister Mary Anthony was never afraid to say what was on her mind and she had a strong personality. When the young sisters began going to DC to the Dominican House of Studies for their theology program she didn't hesitate to tell us that she didn't approve. One day, 2 of the young sisters were talking to her about it. She waved them aside. "I have no use for all this study, study, study! I do my spiritual reading! Thereupon she picked up a large volume of the Fathers of the Church and walked passed them toting it under her arm. She might not have liked to call it study but she was well read and theologically grounded.
Sister was extremely active until her late 70's when arthritis caused her to slow down, something she found difficult to accept. She took her vocation of prayer very seriously and spent more and more time in the Choir before the Blessed Sacrament and then in her cell praying. If you did her a kindness she'd say, "I'll say a Divine Mercy chaplet just for you!"
About 3 years ago it became necessary to have her cared for by our Dominican Sisters at the Infirmary of St. Catherine of Siena in Caldwell, NJ. This was a very difficult change for her. We would visit her frequently and she especially enjoyed the visit of the novitiate. She went home to her Eternal Bridegroom on Saturday at 3:25 AM.
We pray that she is now enjoying the delight of the Face of God and praying for all of us!