By Sister Charlotte Sonneville, OSB
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; you who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance her worth. (Sirach 6: 16-17)
Recently, I found myself thinking about a Benedictine Sister who became a “sturdy shelter” for me as a schoolgirl in Moline and, later, a Sister myself.
Sister Gregory Marquardt first guided me through a wrenching period in my life when my mother was very ill, my brothers were in the Navy and my dad was overwhelmed with keeping our family business afloat.
She was always available with a listening ear and a gentle manner to help me put things in perspective. She helped me learn to laugh at my shortcomings, to pick up the pieces and move on.
I grew to depend upon her for guidance, as well as support. When I was offered a scholarship to St. Mary’s Academy in Nauvoo, Sr. Gregory helped me convince my Dad that this was a great opportunity.
I have no idea how we managed to convince him, but it turned out to be the changing point in my life! It opened the door to discovering that I was being called to become a Benedictine Sister.
That same year, Sister Gregory was transferred to Nauvoo serve as both Librarian and Infirmarian.
I remember a nasty flu epidemic that had every bed in the infirmary filled. Sr. Gregory would come in at night with her magic lime jello. She was sure it would settle our stomachs and get us back on our feet.
Even then, we knew it was actually her loving care and gentle touch that got us out of bed … although giggling at the thought of a lime-jello cure might have helped!
Sr. Gregory helped me learn to really listen to others, and to let them know I care.
She helped me realize that although most of the time I can’t change what’s wrong, I can be present, empathetic, and even bring a sense of humor to lighten the weight of the problem and give us both a fresh start.
Sr. Gregory was a “treasure beyond price” for me. I wish I could tell her that today.
Who do you wish you could tell that to?