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.