In faith we believe that God is with us, and Marie is with God, and so we believe that Marie is here with us as we gather today to celebrate her love of Christ and her ministry to others that flowed from that love. Dear Marie, as we speak of you, we honor you and try to grasp the significance of the many splendored and meaningful life that you lived.
Marie was a woman of unusual gifts of both nature and grace. She lived a life filled with the tender compassion of our God. She was brilliant, refined, lovely, gentle and humble and her gifts flowed into her ministry. She had an intense prayer life. And her journey to become her true self was the focus of her journey to God. This was what fed her soul in her search for truth, beauty, depth, future and ultimately, for the mystery of the loving God.
Marie lived her life as the Gospel says: “full measure, pressed down and running over” with faith, love and service to the lives and hearts of others. Throughout the years, Marie’s ministries included education on the elementary and high school levels, parish religious education, spiritual direction, adult spiritual retreats and adult theology courses. Marie was the founder of the Mom’s Group in Saint Edwards’ Parish, Syosset which is presently celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Other ministries include St. Mary’s, Manhasset, Saint Anastasia in Douglaston, and Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Point Lookout. Her ministries remained vibrant, active and meaningful to the people with whom she journeyed until last Wednesday when she returned to God. Marie loved Saint Therese of Liseux and through her work, Marie imitated Therese’ vocation to love, and to be love in the heart of the Church.
Above all, Marie had a poetic soul. This is what is found in Marie’s writings,
“I love the poem “Love Bade Me Welcome” by George Herbert. In some way, it describes me, guilty of dust and sin and then shows me that You, in your graciousness, do welcome me and ‘bid me eat.’ I always cry when I read this poem.”
Marie had a saying hanging in her room which read, “Jesus died believing God would raise Him from the dead.” God did, and Marie staked her very life on this claim.
Marie delivered a paper entitled, “What Can I Say about the Resurrection?” In it she quotes, Rahner, the great Theologian, who maintains that the correct starting point for a genuine Theology of Easter is a true theology of death.” For Rahner, death is the event in which a person becomes his/her definitive self. When the vessel of Christ’s body was shattered in death, Christ was poured out all over the cosmos. He became, in His humanity, the heart of the universe, the innermost center of creation. With Jesus, the Resurrection must be the goal and fulfillment of His death. The Resurrection will maximize our capacity to relate and communicate. We will be free of limitations. We will be liberated to be truly ourselves.
Today, as we speak of our beloved Marie, we send her off with cheers through our tears. Marie, our prayer is that you will be in the loving compassionate embrace of our God. As you celebrate your Passover, you enter fully into the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Bravo, Marie! Happy Easter! Rest in the joy of your full participation in the life of God! Amen, Alleluia!
Sister Margareet Fanning. CSJ
Sister Marie Sullivan died on March 23, 2016 in the 68th year of her religious life.