Sister Mauricita Schieber, OSB
November 15, 1916 - October 13, 2015
Sister Mauricita Schieber, OSB, 98, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kan., died Tuesday, October 13, at the monastery. The vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 18, in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there at 10:30 a.m. Monday, October 19.
The daughter of John and Frances Kern Schieber, Sister Mauricita (Frances) was the youngest daughter and tenth of eleven children who made their early home in the Clyde, Mo., area. She taught in the local school there before entering the Atchison Benedictines in 1945. There she became noted for her dedication to monastic life, faithfulness to prayer, and her ministry to God’s people through education. Sister Mauricita received her bachelor’s degree in history from Mount St. Scholastica College and a master’s degree in education from Creighton University, and also did advanced study at the University of Notre Dame.
After teaching briefly in elementary and high schools in Atchison, Baileyville, Kan., and Omaha, she spent the years from 1953 to 1988 in Kansas City schools. She taught at Lillis High School, then was principal and teacher at St. Joseph (Shawnee) and St. Anthony, Christ the King, and Our Lady of Unity, all in Kansas City, Kan., receiving a service award for teaching more than 25 years in Wyandotte County. On her return to Atchison, she became administrator and teacher in the reading center at the Mount Community Center from 1988-2001, where she helped many learn to read. She also taught summer school courses in education and history at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn.; at Mount St. Scholastica College, and at its Mount outreach at Benet Hill, Colorado Springs, Colo. She happily incorporated in her classes the richness of her travel in Europe and the Holy Land.
Sister Mauricita was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Catherine (Mrs. Ernest) Mattson, Mary (Mrs. Clifton) Mattson, Rose (Mrs. John) Jermain and Sister Adella Schieber, also of the Mount community, and by her brothers Lawrence, Paul, Joseph, Leonard, John, and Father Joachim Schieber, O.S.B. She is survived by relatives and by her monastic family, which includes her niece, Sister Marilyn Schieber, O.S.B. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s web site.
Reflection for the Vigil Service for Sister Mauracita Schieber, OSB
October 18, 2015
By Sister Mary Collins, OSB
Readings: Ben Sira 2: 1-5, 15-17; I Tim 1:12, 14-17; John 12: 24-26
The death of a family elder is a time for remembering with gratitude. Tonight we join with the Schieber family, reflecting with you on a long life well lived. First, we want to express our condolences to you, the many nieces and nephews and cousins of Sister Mauricita unto several generations – and especially to our Sisters Marilyn and Celinda, the one her faithful niece, the other her lifelong friend and companion. Gathered here too are former students. You are each dealing with loss, the loss of the last of generation, the loss of a friend and mentor, the loss for all of us of an example of lifelong fidelity.
I became personally acquainted with Sister Mauricita only fifteen years ago, at a time when her memory was becoming increasingly unreliable. It was by chance – the chance of my signing up to keep watch with her at 4:00 the afternoon of her death – that I was with her when she breathed her last. I remember her in these last years of her life as charming and witty, even when she had no intention of being so. Tonight’s gospel, for example, only incidentally mentions the apostles Andrew and Philip as messengers to Jesus Seeing this I remembered an afternoon visit with her some years earlier. We were looking at the framed family picture on her wall and she was telling me who was who. Suddenly she said, “I wonder whatever happened to Andrew.” I nudged her memory: the young Andrew had become the monk Father Joachim. “Oh” she said a bit impatiently, “I know Father Joachim. I’m talking about Andrew.” Whatever happened to the young Andrew? Now she knows without prompting.
Sister Mauricita herself chose tonight’s scripture readings for her funeral liturgies. They led me to reflect on who she was among us and what she saw that God had been doing in her life – and may yet be doing in ours. Interestingly, none of the three readings was a narrative, so there was no parable, no story into which we might insert her life and ours. We had to consider her choices some other way.
Ben Sira, who penned our first reading had something in common with her – they were both teachers. Someone has called Ben Sira’s book, written two centuries before the time of Christ, “a handbook of instruction for the preparation of lessons.” Wisdom literature in the shape of lesson plans, no less. The selection from Ben Sira is part of a longer poem that has the heading “Duties Toward God.” This Jewish teacher does not pull his punches. He tells those whom he calls “God fearers” and “God lovers” who were living in changing cultural and political times that they should expect “to be tested in a furnace of humiliation as gold is tested in fire.” “Cling to God,” he says, yet “accept what befalls you.” Was Mauricita reminding us who live in unstable times, as ben Sira was telling his contemporaries, that in times of a major social shift we must be ready to make difficult choices about how to live our lives? Cling to God, yet accept what befalls you.
The image of Sister Mauricita, the woman many of us first knew as teacher, asserts itself again in the second reading, but with a new twist. The author of the First Letter of Timothy instructs the young church community to whom he writes on a whole range of issues. Among them he looks at the best structures for the community, their own behaviors as disciples, and the roles of leadership of the community. It sounds not unlike the agenda of church meetings and church synods in every age with its list of dos and don’ts.
Then, almost unexpectedly, the teaching shifts. His voice changes. He expresses his own gratitude for the place of Jesus in his life. Slowly we get a glimpse of the established teacher now maturing before our eyes. Reflecting on his earlier years – he calls himself “a man of violence” - he is well aware that God’s mercy has been shown him. Christ came to save sinners and he judges himself to be high on that list. He knows he has often acted in ignorance and unbelief without recognizing what he has been doing. Yet - high on the list of sinners- as he is, he confides “I received the most mercy.” He acknowledges, “Christ has been patient with me.” We wonder. Did Sister Mauricita, the mature teacher of long years, want to assure us there is hope for all of us when we listen to a gentle voice speaking of mercy beyond our own loud voices of judgment and authority?
The gospel – the third reading Sister Mauricita has chosen for us – is familiar, yet always new. Jesus has an important teaching for us in the week before he dies. Jesus, looking at the grain of wheat, invites us to do so with him. He declares the simple fact that it must die if it is to bear fruit. It is a message even the youngest farm child understands. Jesus is speaking indirectly of his own impending death. And we have understood him, as we have grown in wisdom, to be is speaking figuratively and literally about how we, too, must die many times in the course of our lives, in order to bear much fruit. Jesus tells us clearly . “Whoever serves me must follow me.”
Sister Mauricita heard Jesus. And hearing, good teacher that she is, she reminds us to follow as she has been doing. For this reminder, we are grateful. To God, all honor and glory forever. To God, thanks for giving her the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord.