Sister Mildred (Beata) Vey, O.S.B.

March 16, 1929 - January 3, 2010

Sister Sister Mildred (Beata) Vey, OSB, 80, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas., died Sunday, January 3, 2010. The vigil service will be Tuesday, January 5, 2010, at 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there Wednesday, January 6, at 10:30am.

Sister Mildred Vey%2C OSBSister Mildred is preceded in death by her parents, by her brother Eugene C., Jr., and her beloved sister Dorothy Ann (Dotty) Belsh. She is survived by her sister, Sister Virginia (Pauline) Vey, of Benet Hill Monastery, Colorado Springs, Colo.; by her nieces Ann M. Belsh and Mary Belsh Seminatore; her nephew Jule R. Belsh, all of Pittsburgh, Penn.; and by her monastic family.

Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.

Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.


S. Mildred's memorial card

“There is an appointed time for everything, 
and a time for every affair under the heavens.”

With the swiftness of “appointed time,” Sister Mildred hastened home to God after a brief illness. She entered the community January 25, 1948, and made monastic profession August 11, 1949. Sister Mildred’s study and teaching usually had their source in mathematics, nursing, or art, and she used these areas to help improve the lives of others. She taught both mathematics and art in almost every one of the community schools to which she was assigned; and for over 17 years was associated with the Meda P. Washington Education Center, an alternative high school in St. Louis, Mo., tutoring and teaching math to those who benefited from special assistance. She had a dedication to disadvantaged youth and the poor. On her return to Atchison, Sister Mildred helped in Dooley Center evening recreation for several years, and oversaw the needs of the monastery dining room until her death. Sister Mildred received her Bachelor’s in mathematics from Mount St. Scholastica College, and continued her study of math and education, earning a Master’s from Montclair State College, NJ. Her interest in animals led her to volunteer weekly at the Atchison Animal Shelter. She freely shared her unique approach to the ordinary and the unusual in life. She is survived by her sister, Sister Virginia Vey, of Benet Hill Monastery, Colorado. Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.

 

Reflection given at the Vigil Service 

by Mary Collins, OSB

Readings: Song of Songs 3:1-5; Romans 8:18-25; John 14:1-7

The very existence of each of us is a mystery of God’s making. Who are we that God cares for us? is a question worth asking at turning points in our family and community lives. Sister Mildred’s death is such a time.

Tonight we first extend our sympathy to Sister Virginia, big sister to Mil in the Vey household and younger sister in the Benedictine family. We have heard much about their Pittsburgh-based nieces and nephews, the children of their late sister Dottie and late brother Eugene; our sympathy goes out to them, although they were not able to join us for her funeral. In our community we also turn to console one another, especially the sisters who have traveled with her since their novitiate days. Her Atchison friend Penny is here, too, joining us in our grief at the loss of our sister. Together we pause to ask: Who are we that God cares for us?

The first reading from the biblical Song of Solomon answers the question by narrating the story of a lover and a beloved. The story tells of wandering and bewilderment, of listening and calling out, of eagerness and concealment, of unexpected sightings, of beauty, of deep longing for embrace and communion. The story ends in the lover and beloved ready and finally meeting face to face. This song is in the scriptural canon because people of faith have long read it as the mysterious story of every human’s intimate relationship with God. It is every person’s story of our yearning and of how unseen divine love surrounds us. Sister Mildred’s living of that divine-human story culminated late Sunday evening, on the feast of the Epiphany. Her story ended because Love was ready.

Those who waited with her in her final hours spoke to her of the coming reunion with her father and mother, Eugene and May, with her sister and brother Dottie and Eugene, of her entering into the communion of saints. When the mysterious longed-for meeting beyond all our imagining came, it came more suddenly and quietly than we expected. We who had been her companions and sisters in community were suddenly caught off guard. Yet Mildred had been moving toward intimacy with God for eighty years - not so sudden at all.

The Trappist spiritual writer Michael Casey uses the phrase “toward God” to name the whole orientation of our human being. That we are all “toward God” is the fundamental reality of our lives. From the moment of our coming into existence, our being has been toward God.

The Gospel just proclaimed in our hearing announces that Jesus wanted to sharpen our attention as we looked for Love. Jesus said: I am the way toward God. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And there is the twist in the tale: the way toward God is the way of suffering. So the gloriously lyrical account of a rapturous movement toward God in the Song of Solomon is balanced in tonight’s second reading with a dash of realism

St. Paul’s reports what he learned to be the case in his own life. “We know,” he says, “that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now: and not only the creation but we ourselves . . . .” Paul assures us that the sufferings of the present are nothing compared with the glory ahead of us, but he also acknowledges that we will find ourselves and one another groaning not only inwardly but also audibly while we wait in patience for the coming of Love.

Sister Mildred’s youthful trust in God’s love for her brought her far from her beloved home in Pittsburg. It brought her even farther than she might have chosen to go on the way of suffering. I think she must have been buoyed often by the opening phrase of tonight’s gospel, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” For Mildred exhibited great equanimity and generosity in her presence among us, even as we were witnesses also to her suffering. Sister Mildred was physically and emotionally fragile as we saw her in her later years, keenly sensitive to life’s difficulties and yet able to laugh at life’s absurdities – hers and ours.

I had the privilege of accompanying Sister Mildred at the time we displaced her from her friends, from her ministry to young women and from her pets in St. Louis. She willingly came again to this place of St. Scholastica where she had vowed to trust herself to God and to her sisters. Life here at the monastery where we try to live in obedience to one another was clearly a stress to her equilibrium, and she in turn was well-able to stress especially the drivers on whom she counted for transportation. But she lived as well as she could each day, not always able to please us, but steadily focused toward God.

Early on, Sister Mildred found her way to the Atchison animal shelter, where she offered and received overt affection for stray and sick dogs and for their human caretakers. Sister Mildred soon found a welcome place in the St. Pius X living group and gradually found a daily service for community that blessed us all. By her presence in this monastic dining room, she worked her way into our hearts. We will miss her. I will miss her.

Later this evening we will have many tales of Mildred to share. But our stories all find their deepest meaning in the greater narrative of Sister Mildred’s mysterious life toward God. Love was ready on this feast of Epiphany 2010 --whether or not we were.