by Linda Herndon, OSB
6 February 2024
Scripture Readings: Job 19:23-27, 2 Corinthians 4:14- 5:1, John 1:1-5, 14, 16
On behalf of Sister Mary Elizabeth and the community of Mount St. Scholastica, I extend our sympathy to S. Joan’s sister, Carole, her niece, Maureen, her grand-nieces, and other relatives, friends, and all whose lives she touched and who mourn her death.
“In the beginning was the Word! And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” Joan was a lover of the “Word.” She listened to the Word as it spoke to her daily through the scriptures, the Liturgy of the Hours, the people, and events of her life. She was open and responded readily to the grace that the Spirit bestowed upon her in abundance throughout her lifetime. As a young woman, Joan answered the Spirit’s call to leave her beloved home in New Jersey and come to Mount St. Scholastica College. Here she stayed and set down roots in stability as a faithful Atchison Benedictine for over 70 years…faithful to community prayer, to living the common life, and in ministry to God’s people as she was called and as there was need.
From God’s fullness, we know each of us receives grace upon grace. As one of Joan’s special graces as a lover of the Word, Joan herself was a woman of the Word. She found God in and through the Word (both with a capital W and a small w). She was a collector of “words.” She loved books and became a librarian and, yet, still never seemed to have enough books around her. Newspapers…she loved to read newspapers. And one could tell Joan’s favorite chair in her living group’s community room since there was always one or more crossword puzzles close by it.
Joan also shared her knowledge of words through the many words she had collected by editing countless articles for various Mount publications, editing dissertations for several sisters, including mine, and other articles and books. All was done with gratitude, graciously, and for the glory of God…and I think so she could learn even more words!
With all the words that Joan had collected, how she must have been able to resonate with Job as he exclaimed, “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book!” As with Job, it seemed evident that Joan wanted to have someone to hear what she had to say, what she knew, what she was pondering. Today, most people are not into engraving words into rock so they would last forever as Job suggested. Joan did write her words on the computer, on legal pads, on scraps of paper, whatever she found handy…and often made copies of them, too! She did not hesitate to share her thoughts and ideas with others.
Could it be that her love of words, the Word, helped Joan to see beyond “what is seen to what is unseen.” I think that her love of poetry gave her the ability to pause and to reflect beyond the transitory to what is eternal. Thus, when Jesus came to her bedside that Friday afternoon and called to her, “Come!”, Joan did not hesitate. She was ready to leave behind this earthly dwelling and go quickly to that eternal home that is not made by human hands…that had been prepared for her since the beginning of time.
Joan, our prayer for you this evening is
that you are enjoying the incredible experience of knowing that your
that your eyes are beholding the Word of life who is the light to our world
that shines through the darkness, and the darkness cannot overtake it.
And, if you have any extra time or have need for anything else to do…
That you find in heaven that there are plenty of books, newspapers,
poems, crossword puzzles, and lots of paper to write on,
and even the opportunity to do some editing
for all eternity!