Sister Sara Marie (Crispin) Chagollan, OSB

November 3, 1929 - May 22, 2007

Sister Sara Marie (Crispin) Chagollan, OSB, 77, a Benedictine of Mount St. Scholastica, died Tuesday, May 22, 2007, at the monastery after a long illness. The vigil will be Thursday, May 24, at 7 pm in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there Friday, May 25, at 10:30 am.

Sister Sara Marie was born to Salvador and Sara Gomez Chagollán Nov. 3, 1929. She graduated from Bishop Lillis High School, entered the Mount community in 1950, and made monastic profession in August, 1951. For more than 20 years she taught in community grade schools in Kansas (St. Anthony, St. Benedict, and Pius X), Missouri (Guardian Angels), and Colorado and was frequently also the musician. She began her college teaching in 1974 at Donnelly College and then continued teaching English and Spanish at Benedictine College and Rockhurst College. From 1981 until she retired, she taught at Penn Valley Community College and cared for her aging parents who lived close by. Sister

Sara Marie pursued her study of Spanish culture and language at Universidad Jaimes Balmes in Guadalajara and at Ibero University, Mexico City, at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and at Avila. She received a certificate in linguistics from Georgetown University, and studied abroad for several years, receiving the Master’s degree in Spanish from Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain. She maintained membership in various academic and professional organizations proper to her field and to her interest in improving language instruction.

She was predeceased by her parents, and is survived by her sister Rita Marie (Oswald) Hansen, of British Columbia, Canada; her brother Marcel Joseph (Lilliane) Chagoyan, by her aunt, a niece, nephews, cousins and by her monastic family. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.

Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers. 

S. Sara Marie's memorial card

“If your faith is the size of a mustard seed,
. . . nothing will be impossible to you."
Matthew 17:20

A soft spoken gentle woman of refinement, Sister Sara Marie was strong and tenacious in her pursuit of what she recognized as God’s will for her. She valued her family heritage of Spanish culture, learned to appreciate music and to play piano from her father, and extended the hospitality open to all she had seen in her mother. From little girl on, she enjoyed outside activities, and was a lover of nature. She embraced her monastic vocation, and treasured St. Benedict’s teaching to seek God in all things. That same enthusiastic dedication and persevering determination accompanied her study in Mexico and at the University of Salamanca, Spain, where she received her Master’s in Spanish. She was constant in her search for ways to improve methods of teaching language and appreciation of one’s culture of origin. She was loving in her care for her parents, to her sister and brother, to her sisters in community, patient and thankful “to the One who touched gently my being with integrity, hope, and love.” When she realized that no more could be done for her health, she declined further treatment and medication, and silently waited for God.

Let us remember her in grateful prayer.

Reflection given at the Vigil Service

by Gabriel Kocour, OSB 

With great tenderness of heart, we, the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, extend our sympathy and our prayers to the Chagollan family, Sr. Sara Marie’s brother, Marcel Sr., and his wife, Lilliane, to her nephews, Johnny and Marcel Ryan, to her aunt, Theresa and to her cousin, Vera and to other relatives and friends of Sr. Sara Marie. We also send our sympathy and prayers to her sister, Rita and her husband who live in Canada and whose health does not permit them to be present with us. Sara Marie died on May 22, the feast of St. Rita.

Sr. Sara Marie lived with us in the Our Lady of Guadalupe community here at the Mount and on her door, she had a brief quote from Maya Angelou. If she could speak tonight she might want to say to us, “No one can know where she is going unless she knows exactly where she has been, and exactly how she arrived at her Present place.”

There was certainly no doubt about it, Sara Marie was very proud of her heritage and her culture. Her parents were born in Mexico and her grandparents came from Spain and France. She was thrilled when she had the opportunity to study Spanish at the University of Salamanca in Spain and also in Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Sara Marie was a gentle, loving spirit who longed to be accepted and appreciated just as she was. She carried a blessing within her heart, as do we all--being a speck of stardust on the journey to become a spark of God. Sara Marie possessed a childlike wonder, often writing little birthday greetings or thank you notes, complete with hand painted colorful flowers and bluebirds or angels. Her notes, however, were written in such a small handwriting, that I once asked her, “Sara, why do you write so small that I have to hunt for a magnifying glass to read it?” She responded, “That’s what my brother says, too.” I never did get a better answer.

One of Sara Marie’s favorite scripture passages was the story of the Good Shepherd. I think that she might have imagined herself as the lamb being carried by the Good Shepherd. Or she may have thought of herself as the Shepherd for she had such a deep love for her family. Her brother, Marcel can attest to this because he was only 5 years old when she entered the Benedictine community in 1950 and she spent as much time with him as she could. I think she would have visited her sister, Rita, in Canada 3 or 4 times a year, if she could have. Her vow of obedience was tested many times because she seemed to have unrealistic expectations of what she could or could not do....especially her travel plans and so her gentle spirit could become the fiery spirit as her sickness progressed. However, through it all, she tried to develop a positive attitude in her illness always caring about her personal appearance and others even when she felt miserable.

Now Sara Marie was a collector. One could say she was definitely not a member of the throwaway generation. Sometimes I would wonder why she collects so much but that’s because I didn’t have to ask myself about my own collection of stuff.

I know what Sara Marie might be doing tonight. You know she has not enjoyed eating for over a year or more. Nothing tasted good . As I reflected on our first reading from Isaiah, I know that Sara is hearing the Lord saying, “ I am making you a feast of rich food, a feast of well aged wines.” Now you might know that Sara Marie loved wine. She had a good friend in Kansas City who had gone to Lillis High School with her and who met us in the parking lot of the doctor’s office on a couple occasions and she would give Sara a bottle or two of Merlot wine. We would bring it home and Sara Marie would share it with her community in Guadalupe, because it was good for our heart and it might ward off cancer. Then the voice of the Lord said, “I will destroy the shroud that is cast over all peoples, I will swallow up death forever and I will wipe away the tears from all faces. I am the ONE you have waited for; Be Glad and Rejoice.”

So Sara Marie who told us often before retiring for the evening, “May you sleep with the angels.” I often rolled my eyes at that just wondering what she meant but I know now Sara Marie is with the angels and with Our Lady of Guadalupe singing, “ My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” So, Gabrielle, she would say, ‘Just roll your eyes, now.’ I would say now, she is truly a ‘Spark of God.’