Sister Mary Paul Ege, O.S.B.
February 3, 1918 – March 24, 2009
Sister Mary Paul Ege, OSB, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Tuesday, March 24, 2009. The vigil service will be Friday, March 27, at 7 p.m., in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there Saturday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m.
Born in St. Joseph, Mo., and raised in Shubert, Nebr., Sister Mary Paul was named Josephine Rose, the daughter of Anthony and Anna Crotty Ege. After earning her bachelor's degree in English at Mount St. Scholastica College, she entered the monastery in 1939 and made monastic profession in 1941. She received a master's degree from Creighton University and served for many years as a teacher, writer, and editor of the community's newsletter and Benedictines magazine.
She was highly respected for her wisdom and devotion to monastic life, directing newly professed sisters, representing the community in its governance activities both locally and nationally, serving as development director, and sharing her spirituality with others in retreats and as oblate director.
Sister Mary Paul was predeceased by her parents and her sister Mary Helen. She is survived by her brother Leo of Cincinnati, Ohio, a nephew and two nieces, and her monastic family.
Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.
Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.
S. Mary Paul's memorial card:
"I remembered God and was delighted."
A small, energetic woman, Sister Mary Paul expressed who she was in an editorial for the Benedictine Review in 1965: The work before us … calls for learning and experience and strenuous thought; for wisdom both human and divine; for patience but not too much patience; for courage, imagination, and deep humility. Baptized Josephine Marie, Sister Mary Paul was one of three children of Anthony and Anna Crotty Ege. After college at the Mount, she entered the monastery in 1939 and made profession in 1941. She used her master's degree in English as teacher, writer, editor of the community's newsletter, and editor of Benedictines magazine for 16 years. She used her monastic wisdom as director of scholastics, delegate to federation chapters and member of the federation council, and community senate delegate and officer. Sister Mary Paul heard differences, listened and questioned, knew the Gospel, and heard the call to monastic life as a call to freedom of heart and a model for what it means to be church. Sister Mary Paul began the Mount's oblate program, directed the first centering prayer workshops, was the community's first director of development, and maintained an active concern for Catholic social justice. A true amma, a spiritual mentor, her writing and example continue to inspire. Let us remember her gratefully in prayers.
Reflection given at the Vigil Service
by Sister Evelyn Gregory, OSB
We come together this evening to remember and to pray for Sister Mary Paul Ege.
We offer condolences to Sister Mary Paul’s family and friends-
to her beloved brother Leo,
to her dear nieces and nephew–Sherry, Marilee, and Rick,
and to members of the community and to all who mourn her death.
We also pray for Mary Paul’s deceased sister Helen, and for Leo’s deceased wife Theresa.
Sister Mary Paul has completed her earthly journey, and entered into the fulness of everlasting life where faith tells us that “life is changed, not taken away.”
Josephine Marie Ege first met the Benedictine Sisters when she came to Mount St. Scholastica College in 1935. During her four years of college, she was attracted to the monastic life through the warmth and hospitality of the Benedictine sisters, and entered the community after graduation in 1939. Mary Alice Slater and Laurene O’Connor, college friends, have continued their friendship throughout these years.
As a young adult, Mary Paul had high hopes and dreams and responded ‘Yes’ to the invitation found in the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict: “Come and listen to me; I will teach you to reverence the Lord.” And “Run while you have the light of life that the darkness of death may not overtake you” (Jn. 12:35).
Sister Mary Paul grew through her attentiveness to the Word in the Scripture. Her life was rooted in faith, and she “set her mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,...” (Col. 3:2). As teacher, writer, poet, and editor, she brought the beauty and elegance of the word to the hearts of her students and readers. She could say with Christ, “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them” (John 17:26).
Mary Paul, as a faithful friend continued some relationships with former students. In a letter she recently received, perhaps in response to some of her fears and doubts, a former high school student sent her a quotation to be placed on her mirror and read daily. The quotation was from Eckhart Tolle which read, “Can I be open to this–?”
She was able to extend tender comfort to those who were grieving. In a letter to someone who suffered the loss of a child, Mary Paul concluded with the words, “These thoughts I share along with prayer and mystery’s best companion, Silence.”
Hers was a prophetic voice for many, inspiring them with a sense of truth and integrity. She spoke and wrote from her convictions with eagerness and energy. Her zeal overflowed into words which opened new frontiers in our community and elsewhere. For many years she was editor of the community news letter and Benedictines magazine. Her readings and writings led to the furtherance of peace.
Small in stature like her patron saint, Mary Paul was zealous in her work for the church, and often grew impatient with the slowness of renewal and change especially regarding social justice. Her quizzical voice and questioning facial expression would linger with the question, “Why?”
She had varied responsibilities, one of which was participating in the distribution to Catholic schools of monies from the late Tom Pendergast estate. She also began the Mount’s first Oblate program, and was the community’s first director of development.
One of the first sisters in the community to learn Centering Prayer, she studied under Basil Pennington. Later she and Sister Elizabeth Ann gave workshops teaching this form of prayer and meditation. Mary Paul dreamed of establishing a spirituality center. Today we know this reality as Sophia Center.
As director for the newer members of the community, Mary Paul emphasized prayer, unselfish love, service to one another, and the common way of life. Parallel perhaps to President John F. Kennedy’s advice to the American people, Mary Paul would advise the Scholastics, “Ask not what the community can do for you; ask rather what you can do for the community.”
Mary Paul lived a life grounded in humility–acknowledging that all is gift from God. She took to heart the words of St. Paul, ”By the grace of God I am what I am and his grace has not been in vain”.
In her editorial in Benedictines magazine on the occasion of the 1500th Anniversary of the Benedictine Order, Mary Paul wrote: “Humility accepts all as gifts of God...The humble person acknowledges that all one is and has is gift, knows one’s very being as gratuitous, knows one’s self made for unimaginable gifting...” Although Mary Paul knew this to be true, she was at times plagued with self doubt and her own insufficiencies.
She continued her writing with the words, “The one who matures in humility grows comfortable with creature-creator relationship, delights in it, and thanks and praises God.... Beyond death, the relationship of the gifting God and the receiving disciple can be expected to thrive in full splendor.” And Sister Mary Paul’s faith reflects her hope that leads her into the full splendor of God. Her favorite line from Psalm 77 was, “I remembered God and was delighted.”
Let us remember her gratefully in our prayer.