Sister Florentine Motichek, OSB
July 19, 1921 - September 1, 2013
Sister Florentine Motichek, OSB, 92, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas, died at the monastery on September 1, 2013. The vigil service will be at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 3, in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be there on Wednesday, September 4, at 10:30 a.m.
Sister Florentine was born on July 19, 1921, the daughter of Joseph and Veronica Druzgola Motichek of Madisonville, Louisiana. After graduating from St. Scholastica Academy in Covington, Louisiana, in 1938, she contributed to the efforts of World War II through her work in California, riveting wings to airplanes. She entered the Benedictine community in Covington in 1947 and made monastic profession in 1949. She attended Loyola University in New Orleans, and taught second graders for 22 years in her community’s schools. Sister Florentine then became community baker and manager of the monastery kitchen. When she transferred to Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, in 1988, she continued to provide fresh homemade bread and rolls for her sisters and for community bake sales until her retirement to Dooley Center, the monastery’s long term care facility. Sister Florentine was predeceased by her parents; her brothers John, Joe, and George; and her sister Veronica. She is survived by a sister-in-law, Ella Mae Motichek, by nieces and nephews and by her monastic family. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online.
Sister Florentine's Memorial Card:
“Help carry one another's burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Sister Florentine Motichek was a faithful member of two Benedictine communities: St. Scholastica in Covington, Louisiana, and since 1988, Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison. Born to Joseph and Veronica Druzgola Motichek, she and three brothers shared the Czechoslovakian heritage of fidelity and hard work that shaped her life. A sister, Veronica, died with their mother in a tragic fire when Sister Florentine was a small child. During World War II, she worked in California riveting wings to airplanes. Entering the Covington Benedictines, she made monastic profession in 1949. She attended Loyola University in New Orleans and taught second grade for 22 years. A second career as baker and manager of the monastery kitchen occupied her for the next 20 years. Transferring to the Mount after her monastery closed, she continued to serve as baker of delicious breads and cinnamon rolls until retiring to Dooley Center. Sister Florentine delighted in growing things, especially strawberries, in anticipating her sisters’ needs, in praying the rosary, in reading and in playing cards. The soft lilt of her southern accent helped frame her stories. Let us remember in grateful prayer this kind, determined, and prayerful companion.
Reflection given at the Vigil for Sister Florentine
by Sister Thomasita Homan, OSB
Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9; Romans5:1-5; John 6:51-58
We extend our sympathy to Sister Florentine’s family: her sister-in-law, Ella Mae, her nieces and nephews, her many students and friends, to all who have loved her. We pray also for Sister Florentine’s family in eternity: her parents, Joseph and Veronica; her brothers John, Joe, and George; and her sister Veronica. Special sympathy to Sister Johnette, the last in our community who transferred from Covington, Louisiana. Thank you, Johnette, for visiting Sister Florentine daily in Dooley, thank you for your kind example of joyful and faithful friendship.
We will miss Sister Florentine, but we can imagine her, with her wise tilt-of-the head look, saying the words of Isaiah as she tells us of the Lord coming to her early Monday morning: “…this is our God; we have waited for him.…This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” She was one for rejoicing! And she would recognize her call from the LORD as a community happening. That’s the way she was. At the heart of community.
That’s why she could also say, with the reading from Romans: “…we have peace with God…we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God…not only that, we boast also in our sufferings…” Everything was one for Sister Florentine. Peace, Hope, Sufferings. It all worked together in some way. Can’t you hear Florentine saying: “Now, let me tell you a thing or two…’hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’” Perhaps her ministry of kneading bread brought her to understand wholeness: mixing the individual ingredients, forming a lump of oneness, and finally, kneading and kneading that lump of dough into a smooth, round oneness. Then waiting, waiting, waiting…for the rising. Isn’t that what Florentine did with dough, with her life, with us? All is one.
The bread image is real. With a small leap, she/we can understand more deeply Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven…the one who eats this bread will live forever.” Can’t you hear Florentine saying, “I’m tellin’ you, it’s true!”
Now a true story about Sister Florentine. Oblates Pat and Don Williams have a long friendship with Florentine. I was curious about when and how their friendship began, so I asked Pat yesterday…and got a quick response that shows the real Florentine. Pat said: “During a very warm July in 1995, I was assigned to work in the bakery with Sister Florentine. She informed me that I could sleep until 6:00 AM because she’d be there at 4:30 to start the ovens, which were encased in brick. The bakery was in the basement, the two windows we could open were at street level and did NOT provide any cool air. I learned, my first day, to always wear a sweat band on my forehead.” She goes on to say by 11, she was drenched through and through.
(There’s more to this story. It will be continued in dining room sharing.)
Sister Florentine was gracious hospitality personified. Her heart held open house to community, to oblates, to guests, to all she met. In closing, I’d like to share a poem that I think Sister Florentine lived, a poem she taught us by example. The title is “Irish Rune of Hospitality.”
The poem is called a “rune”—a rune is a character or a letter of an ancient alphabet that spells out the definition of something. A rune sometimes reveals a secret or unravels a mystery. Thus, “Rune of Hospitality” spells out the secret of hospitality.
Irish Rune of Hospitality
I saw a stranger yestereen,
I put food in the eating place
drink in the drinking place
music in the listening place
and in the sacred names of the Holy Trinity,
he blessed my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark sang her song
often, often, often
goes the Christ in a stranger’s guise,
often, often, often
goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.