Sister Gervase Judge, O.S.B.

March 9, 1912 – November 29, 2007

Sister Gervase Judge, O.S.B., 95, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. The vigil service will be Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 pm in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of the Resurrection will be offered there Monday, Dec. 3 at 10:30 am.

Sister Gervase Judge%2C OSBNebraska-born, Sister Gervase was the oldest child (Leona Frances) of Thomas and Josephine Becker Judge and grew up in Exeter and Atkinson, Nebr.. She entered the Mount community June 14, 1928, and made monastic profession Jan. 1, 1930. She celebrated the 75th year of monastic profession in 2005.

After entering, she completed high school at Mount St. Scholastica Academy and graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College. She received her Master's in Education from St. Louis University. From 1930 to 1950 she taught in elementary schools of the area, and from 1950 to 1970 she was teacher of home economics/ nutrition and principal at high schools in Colorado, Iowa, Salisbury, Mo., and in Seneca, Flush, St. Benedict, and Baileyville, Kans. She then taught in elementary schools in Atkinson and Atchison until 1982. Sister Gervase was a firm, kind, and appreciative teacher and colleague. She was an avid sports fan, and she and her sister, Sister Lorene, have been honored by Benedictine College for their loyalty to its teams.

Sister Gervase was preceded in death by her parents, by her brothers Linus and Paul; her sisters Helen (Mrs. Laurence Beman), Doris (Mrs. Ed Humpal), and Agnes (Mrs. Mrs. Max Hamik) She is survived by her sister, Sister Lorene, and her first-cousin Sister Rita Claire Judge, both of the Mount community; by her brother-in-law Max Hamik, of Atkinson, Nebr., by nieces and nephews, and by her monastic family. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.

Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.

S. Gervase's memorial card

“Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will"
Isaiah 6:8

In the early morning Sister Gervase Judge returned to God to whom she had dedicated her life. Eldest in a family of seven children born to Thomas C. and Josephine Becker Judge, Sister Gervase soon heard the call to religious life. She finished high school at the Mount Academy after she entered in 1928. She received her undergraduate degree at Mount St. Scholastica College, and her Master's in education from St. Louis University in 1958 She celebrated the 75th year of her monastic profession February 10, 2005. A woman of energy, Sister Gervase was wholehearted in her application of monastic values. She influenced family life through her teaching in nutrition and home economics in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri high schools. She expected from her students a like dedication; she was kind and helpful to them and challenged them to the full use of their talents. Sister Gervase loved life and welcomed its dailiness, surprises, and setbacks with determination and edgy humor from quiet chuckle to hearty laughter. Although her physical strength declined, her spirit remained vigorous. She continued her love of sports, tracking with her sister, Sister Lorene, the outcomes of Benedictine College games and enjoying the weekly word games at Dooley Center. Let us remember her thankfully in prayer.  


Reflection given at the Vigil Service

by Joan Offenburger, OSB

Readings:  Song of Songs 2:8-19, 8:6-7a; Colossians 3:12-17; Matthew 11:25-30

The assigned reading for tomorrow morning’s monastic office (Monday, the first week of Advent) is from Isaiah – It begins “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, says God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end… Here is your God…whose reward is with him, his recompense before him.”  May these words bring comfort to you, Sister Lorene, to Sister Rita Claire and all your family and all of us as we think of Sister Gervase – whose service in this world is at an end, whose God has called her to the reward prepared for her..

The readings for this evening also weave a wonderful web of thought. In the Song of Songs, the person recognizes the voice of the beloved Having heard that voice, Colossians presents us with a guide for how we are to live: “Let Christ rule in your hearts…Whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through him.”  And the gospel passage from Matthew suggests that the responsive hearer of the Word receives from a generous God the call to “Come to me; learn from me. My yoke is easy and my burden light.”

That progression of ideas –God’s call, God’s guidance, God’s response—is indeed a call to person, but it is to persons in community—a community strong enough for forgiveness and compassion; fiercely loving, it dares death and goes beyond the grave, and its love is unquenchable, lasting forever.

Sister Gervase heard God’s call early; she entered at 16. She set God’s seal upon her heart from then, through profession, a diamond jubilee celebrated for 75 years of vowed life, through final years of offering whatever came her way. At first acquaintance with her, her students became aware of her almost fierce demand for discipline, one that required their understanding use of their talents. Later, they discovered her compassionate heart that went to amazing lengths to help them and their families. She had discovered, and wanted to share, the realization that however demanding it is to follow Jesus, “the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.”  She was a good coach for a good life.

As a good coach, she knew that in the Christian life, the monastic life, in the athlete’s life, one is always in training. St. Paul says somewhere, “Run so as to win.”  At times an athlete might well think life to be an endless series of laps, one more pushup always seems to lead to one more, lab work vital for eligibility can consume an entire afternoon. There are more plays to memorize; to know one’s own contribution in each of them, and to not lose sight of the purpose of the whole effort.

At her best, Sister Gervase had that kind of vision She studied hard, she worked hard, she played hard. She was competitive; just ask people in Dooley who played the Sunday afternoon word games. She listened to Ravens games, sprinkled the radio and her surroundings with holy water ( an outward sign of inner faith),. She prayed for teams’ safety and gloried in a win. In a loss, she remembered that there would probably be a next time and that maybe mistakes would bring about learning. If you stayed in training and played your best, that’s what counted After all, what does God call winning?

What we sometimes call the mysterium tremendum – the great mystery of God—is a way of saying that all we come to be and all that we do is really a continual attempt to travel further along the way to the great and endless discovery of God. Jesus said,” I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  It’s another may of saying, as Advent does, that Emmanuel, God, is with us on the way to God.

On her way to God Sister Gervase tried to live recognizing the great gift that life is. She was endlessly grateful for the opportunity to give thanks by living in gratitude. In her final days, she said, over and over, “Thank you. Thank you.” She tried to make her own what Paul wrote in tonight’s passage from Colossians: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” We are the beneficiaries of that legacy.