Wake Reflection for Sister Kathleen Aubry, OSB

By Prioress Sister Sandra Brunenn, OSB

I will bless the Lord at all times; Praise shall be always in my mouth. (Psalm 34)

We all knew Sister Kathleen Aubry to be a woman who was lavish with praise and blessing. Looking out the window and noticing the changing seasons, looking at you and noticing the color of your scarf, noticing a simple gesture of caring: each of these were cause for praise and thanksgiving! In the monastery we speak of ‘contemplative vision,’ of seeing with the heart of Christ. If you want to know what that looks like in real life, I would offer Sister Kathleen as a model.

In her life Kathleen did bless the Lord at all times, and praise was always in her mouth.

Sister Kathleen was the youngest of 4 children born to William and Mary Ellen McKinney Aubry in Moline. She graduated from St. Mary’s Grade School and High School and was the valedictorian of her high school class. Sister entered our community in 1945 and professed first vows in 1947. (Full obituary)

Sister taught in our grade schools in Nauvoo, LaSalle, and Peoria. She then taught high school math for over 30 years at St Mary’s Academy in Nauvoo and Bergan High School in Peoria. In addition, while in Nauvoo, she served as dorm prefect, sub-prioress, juniorate director, SMA dean of residence, SMA business manager and art teacher. The list of her various responsibilities is a reflection not only of Sister’s many talents but also of her generous spirit … which we know never diminished.

I have vivid memories of Sister Kathleen from the time I was a young sister. In fact, apart from my novice director Sister Teresa Ann, Kathleen was the first professed sister that I was able to build a connection with. This happened because a couple of other sisters and I began taking college level math classes from her while we were still new sisters. (Remember, these were the days when professed sisters did not associate with sisters in formation.)

Sister Kathleen was a marvelous teacher, even of Calculus! Even more, she genuinely cared for each of us in that little class, and helped create a mini-community among us. I remember well how struck I was by her generosity and seeming unconditional love.

Through the years, in prayer, when trying to grasp the immensity of God’s unconditional love for me, Sister Kathleen has come to mind as a person who made God’s love real for me. The presence of SMA alumnae here this evening as well as family members confirm that others were equally touched by Sister Kathleen. She was a marvelous teacher, model, mentor, and friend.

We are aware that Sister Kathleen endured intense physical pain during her life. Yet we never heard her focus on herself! She was a living witness to the truth of tonight’s Gospel: If the grain of wheat dies to itself, it will produce much fruit. We thank God for her presence in our life, for the fruit that she has nourished in us. We are confident that she now enjoys the honor of the Father that Jesus promises in our Gospel reading.

3 thoughts on “Wake Reflection for Sister Kathleen Aubry, OSB

  1. Very nicely said Sr. Sandra. Whenever I saw her, she had a smile on her face and something kind to say. I’m sure she’ll continue to smile on us.

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  2. Suzanne VanHootegem Thompson

    Beautifully written. Sister Kathleen was captured in every word.

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  3. My Great Aunt Tink understood the Psalmist’s words when describing the Joy of the Lord’s Salvation. When I think of her life, being born with severe health issues into the Great Depression, and losing her daddy at a tender age… Great Aunt Tink could have been a bitter woman. Instead she chose Joy.

    She also, understood the words of our Savior when HE responded to the “Experts in the Law” when asking which commandment is the greatest. Jesus gave them two. The first command HE mentioned talked about loving God with everything and the second HE said is much like the first, to love our neighbors as ourselves. My Great Aunt Tink was able to see past our modern culture’s misuse of the word Love. We are all so quick to express our love for Whitey’s Ice Cream, but Jesus was talking about something else.

    HE was describing a life where we are dependant on the Lord for our next breath and willing to give up control over our next thought. HE was calling us out of a shallow life enslaved to unsuccessfully satisfying our own desires and serving those brothers and sisters that are standing right next to us. Only this life can bring true and lasting Joy.

    I know that Great Aunt Tink… Sister Kathleen Aubry… truly grasped the “LOVE” Christ referred to. She was committed to.HIS greatness and lived life as a true sister to those who had the pleasure of knowing her.

    Much Love & Godspeed Willie Herath
    On a funnier note. People talked about Antiques but I thought they were saying they had an Aunt Tink. I told them I have two one big aunt tink and one small aunt Tink. Was so surprised that they had one also.They referring to Antiques not Aunt Tink. Love and miss her very much.

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