Whenever we come to celebrate the life of one of our sisters we hold up all of the wonderful works they have done during their life as a Sister of Saint Joseph…and this is only right. A little while ago Sister Helen spoke of Karen’s ministries. At each place and with each person …whether a young child in her classroom or in Religious Education…or at the bedside of a sick and suffering person at Downstate Medical Center, Karen brought her gentle spirit that reached into the heart of the person and made him or her feel special, secure and loved. She was so compassionate towards others that she could see into their hearts……accept their weakness and frailty and never made heavy demands on them.
She was the same way with her family. She loved her family so much…and was so proud of each and every one. She enjoyed the many family gatherings of years past. She treasured her nieces and nephews. She would talk about each with love and affection.
I believe that Karen’s greatest gift to all of the people she touched was her own gentleness and her own fragility. All of us here this morning have watched as Karen struggled and rose and struggled and rose again and again . Karen did not have an easy life as a sister of Saint Joseph. She had several setbacks in her life. However, she accepted her condition and embraced her pain with courage and faith. Through all of it she was able to place herself into the heart of her God. What a beautiful sight we, the sisters at Sacred Heart Convent, shared as we so often saw Karen hunched over her pew in the chapel lost in adoration before her God. Her simplicity and her humility were so profound!
In her own fragility I believe that Karen helped us to come in touch with our own weakness, our own fragility, our own need for God. In her own gentle way she showed us how to take whatever God has given to us and to know that God’s plan is for our good.
For all of this we celebrate that Karen Frances O’Neill has been a blessing. She has shared life with us. She has lived profoundly ”a life that is simple, prayerful, courageous and compassionate”. We can be more accepting of our own weaknesses, of our own fragility because of her witness to us. We praise God that she has shown us the fidelity and faithfulness of our God when we are weak and struggling. For all of this Karen we sing your praise and rejoice with you that you now can truly enjoy the unsurpassable and overflowing love that God has for you.
This morning I found this in Karen’s Bible…
“MY OWN PSALM” … I don’t know when she wrote these words…but I thought that I would close this reflection in her words to her God!
My Own Psalm
I praise You, triune God for all your blessings
I thank You for Your goodness to me
In the past You guided me through pain and depression
To a new awareness of Your love
In the present You sustain me in faith and hope
Leading me to a deeper love of Your Father
In the future I pray for Your inspiration
Teaching me the ways of goodness and light
Father, Your love lasts forever
and sustains me in all my undertakings
for Your glory.
Help me to appreciate and give You unending thanks
for Your love and mercy.
Lord Jesus, You have loved me personally from my birth .
Please forgive me for my lack of fidelity and response.
Holy Spirit of Love, give me counsel and courage
To know and accomplish Yahweh’s will for me.
With these words ringing in our hearts, we give you over ….Fall into the heart of the God who is your ALL.
Sister Patricia Lynch
Sister Karen Frances O’Neill, CSJ died on September 26, 2018 in the 59th year of her religious life.