Sister Eunice (Marie Gerard) Ballmann, OSB
March 6, 1927 - December 12, 2015
Sister Eunice (Marie Gerard) Ballmann, OSB, 88, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kan., died December 12, 2015, at the monastery. The vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Friday, December 18, in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 19.
Sister Eunice was born March 6, 1927, the first of six children of August and Agnes Bange Ballmann. She grew up in Elsberry, Mo., attending high school in St. Louis while working in a Catholic hospital. She entered St. Joseph Monastery in 1947 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and her sister, Sister Marie, would soon follow. Her college degree was in elementary education and she taught in the primary grades in Catholic schools for 41 years. In 1968, she became part of the newly founded Red Plains Monastery in Oklahoma City (later Piedmont). With graduate work in education and religious studies, she continued teaching and directing religious education, and became oblate director in 1991. She also served for a time as formation director and on the leadership team of the monastery. She came to Atchison in 2007 as her community joined the Mount St. Scholastica community. Archivist for Red Plains since 2000, she continued her service by assisting in the Mount’s archives.
Sister Eunice was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her brothers Jerome (Emily) Ballmann, O’Fallon, Mo.; and Anthony (Lynne) Ballmann, Davis, Cal.; her sisters Margaret Lagemann, Elsberry, Mo.; Patricia Ryland, Houston, Tx.; and Sister Marie Ballmann, OSB, Atchison, nieces and nephews, and her monastic family. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online.
Reflection for the Vigil for Sister Eunice Ballmann, OSB
December 18, 2015
By Sister Benedicta Boland, OSB
Readings: Isaiah 30:18-21; Philippians 4:4-7; John 12:23-26
Sister Eunice, you always enjoyed the season of Advent, the beginning of the new church year. Your resilient spirit relished the chance for new possibilities; discovering richer insights to share. So it is fitting that we meet here tonight to remember your life, and celebrate your rising to eternal life on last Saturday evening as we sent you on the wings of our Vespers song for Gaudete Sunday (no less!) when we prayed: “The coming of the Lord is near, rejoice for He will lead you home.” And now singing the “O” Antiphons while gazing on the face of the One whom we praise! Living cannot get better than this, Eunice.
In the name of the community of Mount St. Scholastica may I extend our sympathy and prayers to the family of Sister Eunice, to her brother Jerome and his wife Emily, to her sisters Margaret and Patricia, and their deceased loved ones, to her brother Anthony and his wife Lynn, and to our own Sister Marie, to all her nieces and nephews, to her friends including Oklahoma Benedictine Oblates, and to all who knew and loved her.
As the memorial card indicates, Sister Eunice is a Missourian by birth, then an Oklahoman by choice, and since 2007 a faithful member of this monastery in Atchison, Kansas. She is the eldest of the family of August and Agnes Ballmann. The Oklahoma connection came through the example of our aunt, Sister Catherine Ballmann, who had entered St. Joseph’s Monastery in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in the early 1920s. The Oklahoma climate was easier on her asthmatic condition. Her visits home to Missouri every five years called for huge family reunions. Sister Catherine’s example of joy was contagious and Eunice, at a very young age, desired to be a Sister.
At Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis, Sister Eunice said she read every article she found about missionary orders working in foreign lands. Then one day two Benedictine sisters from Oklahoma visited the school and spoke of Oklahoma as “missionary territory.” Its Catholic population was 3.4 percent. That then was the answer to the call. After graduation, Sister Eunice entered the Oklahoma Benedictine Community in 1947. For 41 years Sister Eunice taught primary school children whom she viewed as a “garden of flowers opening up.” Sister Eunice continued as a director of religious education in the Cathedral Parish in Oklahoma City, and then at St. John’s in Edmond until 1988. Her missionary spirit was fully utilized by her undaunted willingness to be a generous and exemplary servant of the church.
In the meantime, Sister Eunice served the community in Piedmont, Oklahoma, as vocation and formation director, oblate director for well over a decade, and became an enthusiastic archivist in her later years.
I must speak of one more activity of Sister Eunice. She was an avid celestial observer. She often attended to meteor showers into the night hours. She knew and followed the constellations across the sky. Psalm 8 was a definite favorite. She lived the verse: “When I look at the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars that You have set in place, O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!”
And all of this outside work was done within the context of daily community life, to which Sister Eunice was the personification of fidelity, stability, goodness and hospitality, obedient to her call as a Benedictine monastic.
In her own words: “Community is very important to me. I find it supportive, loving, caring, demanding, yes, even hard at times. But the Rule of Benedict shows us the way; it gives us the model for living community life – a life lived with others in the spirit of Christ. A life of listening to and learning from each other. … Most importantly, to me, is the gift I received of learning to live the Gospel message in a Benedictine Monastic Community. This I cherish above all else.”
Well done, good and faithful servant, our Sister Eunice.
Yes, Sister Eunice, your life’s story has been a living witness of the Gospel Word we heard this evening: Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground … and if it dies to self, it bears much fruit and will reap eternal life.
With much gratitude, Cousin Eunice, we send you back into the heart of God forever.