Sister Lou Whipple, OSB
May 3, 1966-March 8, 2017
Sister Lou Whipple, OSB, 50, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Saturday, March 11, at 11 a.m.
Raised in Jetmore, Ks., Sister Lou earned a B.S. in elementary education from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Wheelock College in Boston. She was a primary teacher for 17 years in Catholic schools in the Kansas City area: St. Pius X in Mission, and St. Monica, Holy Cross and Visitation schools in Kansas City, Mo. She served on several education committees in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese and on committees of her monastic community. Since 2008, she has been business manager at the monastery.
Sister Lou took joy in the simple pleasures of life: being with her nieces and nephews, playing with the community’s dog, beekeeping, gardening, baking, and reading. Facing her battle with cancer bravely, she continued to be engaged in monastery activities and faithful to the daily community prayers until shortly before her death. She would have celebrated her 25th anniversary of monastic profession this summer.
She is survived by her parents, Mary and Jerry Whipple of Jetmore, Ks., her twin sister Sue Liggett (Bruce), New Haven, Mo., and her brother Larry (Laura) Whipple, Lenexa, Ks., and by nieces, 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 Sister Lou Whipple, OSB
Sister Elaine Fisher, OSB
We come together this evening to remember and celebrate Lou’s life. We have been so blessed to share this monastic life with her over 25 years. It doesn’t seem right to be saying our last farewell so early. However, God’s way will be forever mysterious and beyond our understanding. So, I have the privilege to stand here tonight to express our community sympathy to Lou’s family: to Jerry, Mary, Lou’s twin Sue, Bruce, Molly, Mark, John, Julie, Jamie, Jesse, Larry, Laura, Alex, as well as her extended family, friends, and co-workers. We as community share deeply in your pain and loss. Lou loved you all so dearly and we have been blessed to have you share in our community life. We will continue to hold you in a special way in our prayers and thoughts in the upcoming days and months ahead.
Lou and I grew up in the 70’s. It was the early years after Vatican II and things were kind of chaotic in the church. So Lou and I didn’t have the privilege to study or memorize the Baltimore Catechism. Instead we were taught that God is love. Those fun songs about God’s love, which we sang a lot back then, were the foundation of our early theology. God is love. Lou had a strong grasp on that at an early age and that basic belief of God’s love shaped and molded Lou’s entire life. Lou’s understanding of God’s love grew and deepened as she searched out His will for her life. As the years passed it went from “God is love” to a profound knowledge that what the psalmist said in Psalm 136 is so true. It became the key to Lou’s spiritual life: “God’s love endures forever.” Lou’s short and compact life exemplified that deeply held belief and faith in God’s enduring love. Lou lived her life with hard work, dedication, and faithfulness. Prayer was her strength and courage. She loved our Liturgy of the Hours and cherished her personal lectio time.
Lou had a clear sense of what Ecclesiastes was saying about a time for everything. She was as practical and realistic as Qoheleth was. You can hear her say: “Well, of course there is a time to live, a time to love, a time to laugh, a time to cry, and above all, a time to die. Lou approached her illness and death with much practicality and realism. More than once I heard her say: “OK, what is, is. This is God’s plan. I don’t really like it, but I need to move through every step with faith and face the facts.” That awareness basically translated into: “I need to get that list of things that must be done and check them off.”
Lou was organized to a fault, and she met every event, issue, decision in life with practical realism. She didn’t have time or patience for day-dreaming or trying to be a creative, out-of-the- box thinker. Lou was completely grounded in her loving and faithful God. She was completely grounded in her love for her family, and she was completely grounded in her monastic life. Her desire to be present and a part of our Liturgy of the Hours and community life, even in the midst of her constant pain, was and continues to be a tremendous example to all of us.
Another aspect of Lou’s life—and one that can hold many lessons for us—was her joy in innocence and in finding God in the little things. Lou loved teaching small children; she always said she could see God’s presence in those little kids. She found joy in anything small, cute, and cuddly: baby bunnies, ewes, calves, kittens and of course puppies. She loved to plant seeds and watch them grow and develop. In the past several years there was a tremendous joy in learning about and caring for those fascinating honey bees. Lou knew that the smallest and often overlooked creature or plant also spoke loud and clear about God’s enduring love.
So we pause this evening to say thank you: first, to God for sending Lou into each of our lives, but also with grateful hearts for the gifts Lou gave to us through her quiet living out of her life surrounded by God’s enduring love. My final prayer for you, LouLou, is that you are truly enjoying the sweet nectar of God’s love, and may all of us in the right time join you in that heavenly feast.