Sister Fabian Dekat, O.S.B.
January 10, 1907 - December 28, 2007
When the history of Catholic education in the rural Midwest is written, authors will have something to write about because of people like Sister Fabian Dekat, OSB, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans. Sister Fabian died Friday, Dec. 28, 2007, at the monastery in her 101st year of age and the 84th of her monastic profession. The vigil service will be on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007, at 7 p.m. in the Mount St. Scholastica monastery chapel, Atchison, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Monday, Dec. 31, at 10:30 a.m.
Sister Fabian was born Jan 10, 1907, to Sebastian Fabian and Margaret Noll Dekat of Flush, Kans., and baptized Helena Margaret Feb.10, 1907. She and her sister, Sister Sebastian (+1983) received their father's names as their names in religion. Sister Fabian entered her religious community in 1922 and made monastic profession in 1923. She earned a degree in biology and education from Mount St. Scholastica College and had lifetime teaching certificates for Kansas and Missouri. Sister Fabian taught children from primary through upper grades at Montrose, Clyde, Brookfield, and Maryville, Mo., and at Guardian Angels and St. Bernadette in Kansas City, Mo; at Westphalia, Argentine, Atchison, Paxico, Good Intent, Kelly, St. Benedict, Seneca, Axtell, Shawnee, and Topeka, Kans.; at Portsmouth, Iowa; and at Conejos, Colo. After she retired in 1980, her volunteer work caring for children in the nursery at The Mount Community Center brought her to the attention of The National Conference of Catholic Bishops who featured her in their 1995-96 poster promoting their annual collection for retired religious.
She was predeceased by her parents, by her sisters Dorothy, Margaret, Marguerite and Sister Sebastian, and by her brothers Romanus and Germanus (twins), Meinrad, Alphonse, Eugene, and Emmanuel. She is survived by her sister-in-law Ann Dekat, Hollister, Mo.; by many nieces and nephews, by cousins Rev.Carl Dekat and Rev. Earl Dekat, priests of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and by her monastic family.
Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.
Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.
S. Fabian's memorial card
“O God, you are my God, for you I long:
for you my soul is thirsting."
On December 28, 2007, our beloved Sister Fabian Dekat went peacefully to God. At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of the community. She was born to Sebastian Fabian and Margaret Noll Dekat in 1907 in Flush, Kans. Sister Fabian entered in 1922 and made monastic profession in 1923. She and her sister (Sister Sebastian, 1983+) were given their father's names for their names in religion. Sister Fabian earned a degree in biology and education from Mount St. Scholastica College and had lifetime teaching certificates in Kansas and Missouri. During her professional career, she put her credentials to good use in the rural schools of four states, serving as teacher, principal, and librarian. In her early retirement years, she worked in the canning house, on a stamp project, and in filing for a friend. But children were her love, and she volunteered to care for them in the nursery at The Mount Community Center, rocking little ones to sleep each afternoon. A photo of her in this work was featured in the 1995-96 campaign for the U.S. bishops' annual collection for retired religious. She welcomed time for needlework, word and jigsaw puzzles, and card playing. Strict with herself and generous toward others, she showed us evenness, patience, and prayerful interest in her sisters and in community goals. Sister Fabian’s gaze was clear and penetrating, and somehow conveyed the idea that she understood us and loved us. Let us remember her gratefully in prayer.
Reflection given at the Vigil Service
by Linda Herndon, OSB
Readings: Song of Songs 2:8-13; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 17:24-26
“I can’t wait to get to heaven. Won’t it be great!” Sister Fabian shared this wish with me several times in the recent years. Just a few days before she died, one of the nurses told me that Sister Fabian told her that she just wanted to "go home." And so very early on a cold, snowy morning, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Jesus came to get Sister Fabian. He said to her, "Come! Your advent is over. For you, winter is now past—the snow is over and gone. Come, enjoy the reward that I have prepared for you from the foundation of the world." The one for whom Sister Fabian longed had come at last and she did not hesitate. She went to meet him and did not delay. For her it is now Spring, the beginning of a new life with the one for whom she longed, the one for whom her soul was thirsting.
My favorite image of Sister Fabian in her later years is one that many of you witnessed: St. Lucy’s Chapel has no lights on and Sister Fabian sits alone there reading the Bible. Before she was confined to a wheelchair these last couple of years, whenever I wanted to find Fabian, I always knew where I could find her. I’d go to St. Lucy’s Chapel and more often than not, there she was. Fabian loved to sit and pray. I was not surprised to find that the quote she wanted on her memorial card was from Psalm 63, “O God, you are my God, for you I long: for you my soul is thirsting." As she grew in age and in holiness throughout her long life, it became more and more visible that her entire life was truly lived in praise and glory of God alone. Her inheritance was Christ and her very being longed to go to heaven to be with God.
Both Paul and John tell us that God loved us and chose us before the foundation of the world. How strongly and certainly Sister Fabian must have experienced being chosen by God. First, when she was baptized on the Feast of St. Scholastica in St. Joseph's Church in Flush, Kansas—a special place for her since her family helped to build that church. As she grew up, she learned from her parents, Sebastian Fabian and Margaret Dekat, of the riches of God's grace that was bestowed on her. When she was one month over the age of 15, Helena Margaret and her 17 year old sister Clotilda came to the Mount. She, who was first sealed with the promised Holy Spirit at her baptism, sought to share the gifts that God had lavishly given her as a vowed Benedictine. Sister Fabian (as Helena became known) was so young when she came to offer her life to God that she could not make perpetual vows with her sister, Sister Sebastian, but had to wait two additional years until she was old enough.
Whether in her youth or in her elderly years or in-between, Sister Fabian shared the gifts she had been given as lavishly as God had shared them with her. She taught for 57 years in both elementary and secondary schools. After she "retired" and came home, she continued to serve in a variety of ways, including rocking the babies to sleep each afternoon in The Mount Community Center daycare. She touched the lives of countless children, from infants to high-schoolers, and their parents. Sister Fabian also touched the lives of those with whom she lived and taught. As a first-year scholastic, I lived with both Sisters Fabian and Sebastian in Maryville. It was then that I witnessed first-hand Sister Fabian's commitment to prayer and community not as much by words but by her actions. She was patient with an idealistic young sister, loving, accepting, always willing to help wherever she could—truly a model of how to live the monastic life. John could have said of Sister Fabian as he did of Jesus, "I made known to them your name …that the love with which you loved me may be in them."
Sister Fabian's death marks an end of an era for us at the Mount. She was a link from our founding in Atchison to the present. During her many years at the Mount, Sr. Fabian witnessed so much of our history. When she and her sister entered our community on February 11, 1922, there were over 370 sisters here and Mother Aloysia was prioress. Sister Fabian lived under all but our first two prioresses and the last of our founding sisters, Sister Gregoria, died after she entered. In reflecting on Sister Fabian's long life and her nearly 85 years as a vowed member of this community, I am in awe of her faithfulness to her vows and her ability to embrace with openness all the changes in the Church and community life that came with Vatican II. For her, all life was gift to be treasured, reverenced and shared. I do not know how she was able to do so with such grace, peace, and love, except that she knew deep in her heart what John tells us in the gospel—that she truly had been loved by God since the foundation of the world. May she continue to be an inspiration and model to us of how to live and love in the midst of changing times.
Before Sister Anne, our prioress, left for Brazil she shared with me that she had greeted Sister Fabian with "Merry Christmas" on Christmas morning. Sister Fabian was not speaking much, but she did wrinkle her face and look back at Sister Anne as if to say, "Are you sure it's Christmas today?" At the time, I did not understand her questioning look. Now, I do. For Sister Fabian it was not Christmas that day. She must have known that Jesus was not coming for her on December 25. Her Advent extended a few days longer than it did for the rest of us. As we sing our Christmas hymns for the funeral liturgies for Sister Fabian, let us rejoice that Jesus came on Christmas day over 2000 years ago and that Jesus came for Sister Fabian on her Christmas Day of December 28.
Now, Sister Fabian, we your sisters and your family thank you that you made known God's name to us with the love with which you loved us. It is because of your love for us that we will miss you and that we can rejoice with you that your beloved has come for you. Yours now is the fullness of all spiritual blessings in the heavens for all eternity. Your body and soul no longer thirst since you are with the one for whom you longed for nearly 101 years. You are at home at long last!