This morning I attended the Mass of Christian Burial of Sister Mary Veronica (of the Eucharistic Face of the Lord) Grzelak. Sister Veronica was 98 years old and 83 years a professed religious sister in the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and she was my grammar school principal. The chaplain to the sisters, Father James Cole, gave a fine homily connecting the suffering and pain we suffer here, as Sister Veronica did in the last years of her life, with the suffering and pain of the Lord. That is, suffering and pain is redemptive, that is, it has real meaning if we accept it and connect it with the Lord’s suffering. Therefore we say that in connecting our trials here with someone greater than ourselves allows us not to focus on ourselves alone but on the needs and sufferings of those around us, indeed others in the world. In this case, that someone is the Jesus.
The Nazareth sisters mourn a great and brilliant woman; Sister Veronica, like all of us, was a complicated person but a loving and wildly generous woman of faith who gave a great witness to the Lord’s generosity. When I last saw Sister Veronica about 10 years ago she gave me a great big hug and kiss. On Friday, the day she died, I returned the gesture of love and thanked her. Our Christian lives are necessarily marked by gratitude or they are not really Christian.
I graduated Saint Stanislaus School (New Haven, CT) 26 years ago. I never would have thought now I would have had an adult relationship with the congregation of sisters who taught me in grammar school never mind be a part of the funeral rites of one of the sisters. Sister Veronica was 72 years old when she was my principal and continued to work for years afterward. When most people retire for active work, Sister Mary Veronica (of the Eucharistic Face of the Lord) Grzelak continued to be an icon of the generosity of the Lord.
Walking around the cemetery I noticed the names of others Nazareth sisters I knew: Sister Mary Carol, Sister Mary Rosetta, Sister Mary Eleanor, Sister Mary Joanita.
God grant them rest, peace and light!