Sister Maria Elisabeth Rypkema, CSJ

Sister Maria Rypkema…I always called her Marijka once she told me her Nederland name.  She loved being called Marijka.

Her life was surely an example of patience, love and searching.  As S. Tesa has mentioned, she was an educator in several schools and principal in Queens (St. Teresa of Avila and Our Lady of Perpetual Help) for 16 years.  Her own love of learning influenced her classroom demeanor, as did her sensitivity to each student.  One of her devoted friends whom Marijka taught in third grade, and who kept up with her, shared her deep love and unending gratitude to Marijka for her kindness so needed at that particular stage of her life.  There were so many aspects of her life which exuded from the depth of her soul… to name a few… her heritage, her revelatory manner always unfolding, her intellect, her generosity, her artistic gifts, her love of nature and animals, her spiritual depth – prayerful, accepting of her situation in life, her joys and her sorrows. Marijka’s life was a mixture of self-revelation, ancestral pride, initiative, openness and humility.

Marijka lived her family and kept contact with all – near and far.  They, in turn, did the same as she received letters and gifts from them constantly.  She would come in and speak of the black bread and the special cheese, and then give some to me and others.  She received packages of candy, chocolate which she loved and a variety of cookies always sharing them with the sisters and others.

Marijka stacked up the newspapers daily keeping in touch with the world situations.  Her sensitive spirit drew her to the animals, especially cats near the Academy.  We all saw the trail of lettuce and food across the front porch of the convent to the Academy building.  These feline animals had a great friend in Marijka, with food gifted by her brother, Jacob.  Sometimes, we had to say, “Enough no! OK?” But her heart wouldn’t let her stop!

Fr. Jim Krische, a military chaplain, was in touch from Afghanistan with Marijka regularly by cell phone.  His visits, when he was on leave, meant the world to her.

Marijka was very generous when opportunities presented themselves.  She had a rocking chair in the attic and gave it away for the receiver’s grandson.  She kept nothing but her beautiful Netherland shoes and pictures/scenes.

One of her claims to fame was that she was born on Christmas Day, and, when invited to carry the baby to the manger one year, she was childlikely ecstatic.  One of Marijka’s friends told us she said, “Jesus is my best friend”. She truly depended on this relationship of love throughout her life.  When she became more ill, while in St. Joseph Convent, and had to leave her beautiful newly renovated room, after a fall, her acceptance was there with Jesus’ support.  Her variety of emotional experiences throughout her life, both difficult and splendid, together with the support of her loving family enabled Marijka to be the true person she was.  She will be missed by her family, her sisters and all at Maria Regina who loved her and cared for her so deeply.  May she now enjoy God’s peace forever.
Ssister Maura Costello

Sister Maria Elisabeth Rypkema, CSJ, the former Sister Miriametta, died on June 19, 2023 in the 66th year of her religious life.

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