Sister Frances Costello entered the Siosters of St. Joseph in February 2, 1943. She earned a BA in Italian at Manhattan College and studied Special Education at Catholic University of America..
How else to begin this reflection on the life of Sister Frances Costello than by saying the words she said over and over again to us at Sacred Heart…I just wish I had her bony finger to make it look real for you.
Smile ajile and while you smile …another smiles …and soon there’s miles and miles of smiles…and life’s worthwhile because you smile. This was the underlying belief that sustained Fran’s life and her ministry. She brought this belief and her wonderful smile to every place to which her God called her.
It all began in her wonderful family who lived in Corona.. We used to tease her that her Mom and Dad, Mary and Joseph, were blessed with such a saintly and holy child, Frances. The Holy Family in the flesh!
She loved her best-friend and loving sister Helen and shared many wonderful adventures with her in the congregation. She missed her so when she passed away. She loved her sister Mary… and as Mary became frail and in need, Fran would take the Long Island Railroad from Brooklyn out to Manorville every weekend with lots of food and goodies to make Mary’s life worthwhile.
I found a page of Memories in Fran’s room. It began:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Everyday has been a blessing!
She writes on… reflecting on her 74 years in the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph… and all the places where in her words she was blessed beyond measure! Elementary Schools in the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre Diocese were blessed to have her gentle and loving way with children and the smile that she brought to faculty and parents.
In 1967 Frances was sent to St, Francis de Sales School for the Deaf. For 31 years she brought her smile and her love to countless deaf and multiply-handicapped children; reaching them with her goodness…her kindness and her beautiful smile.
At the wake yesterday we heard beautiful accounts of how she ministered to the faculty from “her office under the stairs”. What a blessing!! As she walked into the chapel where the wake was held, one of her co-ministers at the Deaf School greeted me with these words: Mother Teresa got all the notoriety…but there lies the real Mother Teresa”
While at St. Frances, most times Frances travelled to school by public bus. She was known by name by the other riders and even the bus drive. Can’t you just see her sitting down next to someone who was a new rider on the bus and becoming friends before either of them came to their destination!
After Fran left St Francis…(I just cannot say retired from St Francis)…she continued to be a source of guidance and comfort to the parents and staff she left behind. She became active in the parishes where she lived. Parishioners loved to talk with her after mass and at the supermarket! Her smile invited them to come into her circle of love and goodness!
When Fran came to Sacred Heart she still was somewhat independent. Her smile and her goodness added so much to our convent home! However, she quickly began to recede into another place …another world! I believe that Fran came home to her God many years ago…Her occasional visits back to us on one of her good days, was just so she could remind us of what was really important in life…She would le”ave the dining room with her “Smile awhile” admonition, or with “Good night Ladies”…or even “Show me the way to go home.”
And even though she has been wheelchair bound for several years…could those eyes and shoulders dance!!!
She would stop at one or two of us and whisper “ I love you”…. Or “You are so good”! Those words went right to your heart!
On Tuesday evening Fran’s body caught up to her mind and heart. She totally gave herself over to her God…and was totally embraced by Him. Can you imagine the smile on her face and the smiles of her family and all the people she touched here on earth as Fran danced her way to the Throne of her God. Perhaps these words were the first she spoke..and I quote from her Memories Musing:
I will never cease thanking God…for my life,
my parents, my family, my friends,
my vocation to serve God as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
At this celebration we thank our God for The life of Sister Francis Borgia…Frances Costello…We will never cease thanking our God for her gift of herself to us…and for her wonderful smile. God bless you, Fran and may you rest in the arms of the Sacred Heart!
Sister Frances E. Costello, CSJ died on February 7, 2017 in the 74th year of her religious life.
Eulogy delivered by Sister Patricia Lynch