In this season of the Epiphany, we gather to celebrate the life of Sister Eileen Elizabeth Barden, a Sister of St. Joseph for sixty one years.
Born to Elizabeth and John, Eileen grew up in Brooklyn with her three sisters. She attended St. Matthew’s Elementary School and Bishop McDonnell High School. Three years after graduation, Eileen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph and earned a degree in education teaching primary grades in St. Cecilia in Brooklyn and Sacred Heart, North Merrick.
In 1966, Eileen responded to the congregation’s invitation to go to Puerto Rico where she would minister for over thirty years, a time she cherished and loved. She taught in Colegio Santa Teresita in Ponce and Academia San Luis San Blas in Lajas.
During those years Eileen earned a Masters in Theology from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. In 1977, Eileen began her ministry in Religious Education in Rio Piedras in Puerto Rico. She also earned a Masters in Educational Administration from Catholic University in Ponce. Ministering as Principal of Colegio Santa Teresita, Eileen simultaneously coordinated parish religious education that led her to assume the role of Coordinator of Catechetics for the Diocese of San Juan. In addition to community service and a position on the Board of Directors for Centro San Francisco in Ponce she was also responsible for the formation of Deacons.
All of her life Eileen longed to see her God believing that the law of the Lord is perfect, true and desirable. And so Eileen lived not for herself but for others. And that is what we celebrate today, Eileen’s journey toward her God. Just as the Magi sought the one who would bring newness to their lives, Eileen set out on her life’s journey, seeking the one who would bring exceedingly great joy. As the Magi and Eileen, we must look beyond what we view as bringing comfort and satisfaction and journey to find the God who will provide all that we need to sustain life. As Eileen did on her journey, we bring all that we have and offer it freely, not expecting anything in return and not counting the cost. We thank God for the gift of Eileen’s life that she gave freely without counting the cost to influence the lives of innumerable persons along her life’s journey.
Sister Eileen Elizabeth Barden, CSJ died on January 3, 2018 in the 62nd year of her religious life.