Sister Elsa (Benigna) Moreno, O.S.B.

January 25, 1922 – June 26, 2007

Sister Elsa Moreno, OSB, 85, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Tuesday, June 26, 2007. The vigil service will be Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there Thursday, June 28, at 10:30am.

Sister Elsa Moreno%2C OSBSister Elsa was born to Ruben and Otilia Ledesma Moreno Jan. 25, 1922. She entered the religious community of Christo Rey in Mexico City, made religious profession as Sister Benigna in 1939, and received a teacher’s degree in elementary education. She came to the U.S. in 1953, transferred to the Mount community in 1959, and became a U.S. citizen in 1965. She received the Bachelor of Science in education from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1966. She taught in Colorado and at Sts. Peter and Paul, Seneca, Kans. She is predeceased by her parents, her sister Concepción, and her brother Antonio. She is survived by a brother Salvador Moreno of Patzcuaro, Mexico, by nieces and nephews, and by her monastic community. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.

Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers. 

S. Elsa's memorial card

“Let my heart delight in your saving help,
Let me sing to my God for his goodness to me" 
Ps. 13:5

Sister Elsa’s manner of going to God might seem uncharacteristic, so sudden and swift was the passing of one who liked to linger and visit with her friends. But further thought suggests that her response to God was usually very prompt, and as complete she could make it. She was born in Uruapan, Mexico, to Ruben and Otilia Ledesma Moreno and lived at home until she entered the community of Christo Rey, Mexico City, where she made first vows in 1940 as Sister Benigna. She received a teacher’s degree from Normal School in 1950. In 1953, she came with other Sisters to the United States, worked with them at St. Benedict’s College food service (now Benedictine College). She transferred to the Mount community in 1959 and became a U.S. citizen in 1965. Sister Elsa earned the Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1966. She was happy teaching young children – in Colorado at Denver, Walsenburg, and Antonito; and at Sts. Peter and Paul, Seneca, Kans. Sister Elsa then served in food preparation and other duties in the monastery. She delighted her sisters with her clear, sweet voice when she sang the Spanish songs she loved. Hers was a refreshing presence -- a happy spirit, proud of her heritage. Let us remember her in our prayer.

Reflection given at the Vigil Service

by Maria Larkin, OSB

The scripture readings this evening reflect one of the continuous threads of Sister Elsa Moreno’s life among us -- that of love. The first reading from Sirach reminds us that wisdom comes from the Almighty and works most perfectly in those who love God. Wisdom is a disposition of the heart which prompts one to practice the virtues of faith, hope, trust and love of God.

In the Book of Sirach we read that: “The eyes of the Lord are on those who love him….” (Sirach 34:16). “The Lord lifts up the soul and makes the eyes sparkle” (Sirach 34:17).

Surely love made Sister Elsa’s eyes sparkle and her joyousness was a reflection of her soul and a gift to us. She lifted us up with her song and her joyous greetings: “Oh that is so beautiful! You are so beautiful! Que hermosa eres tu!”

We heard the parable of the Vine and the branches from the Fifteenth Chapter of the Gospel of John. As if in anticipation for Sister Elsa’s funeral we sang this morning at Communion time:

“We have been told, we’ve seen his face, and heard his voice alive in our hearts; live in my love with all your heart, as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. I am the vine, you are the branches, and all who love in me will bear great fruit.”

The image of the vine and its branches suggests the intimacy that we are invited to with Christ. Jesus enjoined on his apostles a brotherly love. He wanted them and us to understand that love is an essential element in our relationship with Him and with those with whom we abide.

Jesus urges us: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:5-6). As the Father loves Jesus, so Jesus loves us. He tells us these things so that his joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete. He wants us to have his joy; to know his constant love.

Joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness are fruits that God wants us to bear for him. Such fruit takes time to grow and to ripen in our lives, and we can only produce such fruit as we allow Jesus Christ to live his life in us. We have noticed these gifts in the life of our Sister Elsa.

She was led by the Spirit of God of which Paul speaks in the letter to the Romans. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:14-23).

Adoption by God is one of the most beautiful acts that one could ever experience. To be personally chosen by God to be part of his family is an awe inspiring gift for those who love Him.

As children of God there are always growing pains and there is suffering. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:28). We share suffering jointly with Christ but there is the great hope that we will be glorified with Him. God loves us with an everlasting love. Now our Sister Elsa will know an eternity of love.