Reflection for the Funeral Vigil for Sister Trinitas Miles, OSB
By Loretta McGuire, OSB
November 12, 2012
In the name of Sister Anne and the Sisters of Mount Saint Scholastica, we extend our sympathy and prayers to Sister Trinitas’s cousins who are unable to be with us tonight and to her friends, our brother monks, and to one another.
Our readings tonight speak of the Good Shepard knowing and loving us and we knowing the good Shepard, of our being prepared night and day for God’s call, and for complete trust that God will sustain us.
We just heard from Isaiah, “The Lord is the everlasting God, his understanding is unsearchable…He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless.” Sister Trinitas believed in these promises and over the last ten days of her life her powerlessness became her strength.
I had the opportunity to live one year with Sister Trinitas at Peace House. However, I came to know Sister in January 2011, when I begin my ministry in Dooley Center. She was prayer leader, cantor and acolyte for liturgy of the hours three mornings a week, communion minister to the sick, and daily cantor during Eucharist for the sisters in Dooley Center. Father Lewis and Sister Trinitas were a real team. Father Lewis loved to sing and would sing with all his heart, a little off key..but no problem, Sister Trinitas would pick up and fill the chapel with her voice and all followed.
Last fall for a brief of time, Sister Trinitas needed to be a patient in Dooley Center which coincided with Fr. Lewis’s retiring and the new Roman Missal translation beginning. After her brief period of confinement, she was never able to assume the full ministry commitment she had before but she was able to lead the music for Sunday liturgy.
We knew Sr. Trinitas as a woman of many “great devotions”..to Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph, Divine Mercy, the Rosary, and Our Infant of Good Health to name just a few. She told me her parents took her to Canada to visit the Shrine of St. Anne Beau Pre and this in turn instilled in her a desire and love for visiting shrines both here and abroad, especially Our Lady of Snow, near St. Louis and Medegorie. We also knew Sr. Trinitas as a woman who loved astronomy and enjoyed sharing her telescope. She greatly enjoyed good food and conversation. She found joy and comfort in watching her favorite television shows, and she loved with all her heart music. However, paramount for Sr. Trinitas was the Eucharist.
“Awake Sleeper” be careful how you live. I accompanied Sr. Trinitas during some of her early testings and preparation for surgery. I also was with her the day of her surgery. Although, overwhelmed with disbelief she told me she only “feared the unknown.” “I know the community is praying for me and I feel their prayer for me. Their pray for me is what will see me through.” She was direct with the medical staff in telling them she had a low tolarence for pain and what she would need to keep her calm.
Before going to surgery she spoke to me of being home the next day and what she had ready in her room for admission to Dooley Center. As each day passed, it became clearer and clearer that Sr. Trinitas was not coming home. She was so overwhelmed by what she was hearing about her diagnosis and prognosis, it was impossible for her to hear or believe she would need further testing at KU Med. Over and over she would say, “I just cannot believe all this happening to me.” “I am overwhelmed.” “Can I be anointed before I go to KU Med?” “Tell the community to pray for me, their prayer is what will see me through all this.” St. Paul tells us, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." From diagnosis to death, Sister Trinitas relied totally on community for prayer. Over and over she said, “Tell the community to pray. This is what will see me through.”
Sister Trinitas was a strong, private and independent woman. Over the last ten days of her life I witnessed her total dependence on community for prayer, her ability to surrender all of her devotions and things and her strength in her powerlessness, even over death itself.
Sister Trinitas first heard the call of the Good Shepard in Baptism, again in profession and finally she heard the call of The Good Shepard when the doctor explained in detail the AML, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, diagnosis and prognosis. She lived 58 years hearing to keep death before her eyes. She never dreamed it would be this way, but she knew it was time to prepare to meet God face to face and prepare she did!
The day she was leaving KU Med she instructed me to, “tell Sr. Helen I want to see her to write a letter to community to be read on Saturday.” “I want you to go to my room and take to Sister Alice my black folder.” I said, “Today?” and she said, “Yes, today!” She instructed me what bag to bring from her room to Dooley Center...but no clothes, "I won’t be needing them.” “Tell Sister Susan I want to see her.” “Tell the Sisters to pray, I depend on that.”
Once Sister Trinitas came home, she continued the process of surrendering to God’s call. The final four days of her life we honored Sister Trinitas as she desired. With humility and trust, the letter was written and read asking for community’s forgiveness and trusting community would forgive her. We honored that and forgave her unconditionally. She requested no visitors and if we came to see her, she desired a quiet presence and we honored that. She requested community prayer to give her strength for her final journey to God and we honored that. All things Trinitas held dear throughout her life, she surrendered to God her way and we honored that.
Sister Trinitas died quietly and without pain surrounded by the sisters in Dooley Center gathering for Evening Praise, the community praying for her as promised, with Sister Anne and Sister Mary Benedict present. May she rest in peace!