We come together to celebrate the life of Anne Marie Dean. We are sad, but we know that “we remember, we celebrate, we believe.” We reflect now on her life among us as a Sister of St. Joseph…
From our early founding documents, we have been called to an incredible mission.
“We are wholly directed to the achievement of this total double union……of ourselves and the dear neighbor with God, of ourselves with all others, whoever they may be,
of all others among themselves and with us, but all in Jesus and in God.
Our own Brentwood Constitution, which was placed in Anne Marie’s hands yesterday, calls us to a spirit and spirituality that “is most evident when we move toward fullness of life through self-emptying love and our active participation in this mission. Radically centering ourselves in God, and with great openness to the Spirit, we continue our purpose/ mission in a gentle, befriending, joyful manner.
What did that look like in Anne Marie/Anne, and with us??
My image of what that looked like in her life is “kindness and caring” in “circles of love”…interconnected circles of love.
Her FAMILY circle…Anne, Aunt Anne…Sister, Friend, Companion…Unconditional Love…the way she loved all of you her family has been as close as you are going to get to God’s unconditional love. Patti, and Jenny and Jeff, and now Jay and Julie and Ethan…just in time Holly and Nate, Peter and Cynthia, and Annie Margaret, Neil, and Frances…cousins who are here today…Tony and George and her parents who have gone ahead of her…
CONGREGATION…great openness to all and to what we sense we are called too, faithful companion wherever she has lived and worked…and especially to her friends who have journeyed with her for almost 60 years, and some of the rest of us whom she has met along the way
Circles of FRIENDS and CO-WORKERS… going back to childhood in Floral Park,.. and through ministry along the way…all across 2 enchanted islands…Puerto Rico…and Long Island…on this island in the early days in Brooklyn, and especially during the last 40 years in this diocese… circles among others in the office of diocesan religious education, as teacher and master catechist with adults in parishes stretching from Elmont to East Hampton…teaching and catechizing in elementary school, high school, adults…and in the school, parish, and across the diocese…and most recently in the convent, here, volunteering in pastoral care,…uniting neighbor with neighbor, neighbor with God…all one…all connected…all in a gentle, caring, kind, befriending manner.
Not only did Anne Marie belong to and encourage all these circles of love, but she connected those circles…interconnected us …so that many of us here know her family…or certainly about her family…know the friends of many years, from her party, get togethers with the Puerto Rico circle, and the diocesan office circle, and her local convent house circle, and her Brentwood circle, and on and on…and her gentle, joyful (sense of humor until the end), befriending manner
And so Anne Marie, Anne, we have gathered today to celebrate your life…”I want to live” was your litany of the last months…you have always chosen life…and we thank God for your presence in our lives…you made real with your life this “union of ourselves and the dear neighbor with God, of ourselves and all others, whoever they may be, of all others among themselves and with us, and all in Jesus and in God.”
Sister Patricia Lucas, CSJ
Sister Anne Marie Dean, CSJ died on November 15, 2016 in the 60th year of her religious life.