On behalf of the Sisters of Saint Joseph I welcome you to this celebration of the life of Sister Mary Joel Acerno, a Sister of Saint Joseph for sixty-six years. We come together in this parish Church of The Holy Family, a place, Joel, Eileen, Aunt Eileen called home for over twenty-three years
Joel, Eileen, Aunt Eileen loved her family, especially Gina and Arthur here with us today, and took such pride in their accomplishments. She did for them what she did for so many she encountered in parish schools, at St. Joseph’s College and as principal in St. Claire’s and Holy Child Jesus: she cared deeply and helped in any way she could.
Sister Mary Joel is a true Daughter of Joseph, living her life knowing that God loved her unconditionally and she would share that love wherever there was need. Our congregation has an image of how we should live our lives responsive to the movement of the Holy Spirit and attuned to the world about us. It describes the image of a Sister of St. Joseph with ”Eyes open, ears alert…sleeves rolled up for ministry without excluding the more humble, less pleasing, the less noticeable; always searching in order to understand what God and the dear neighbor await from her today.”
Joel lived her life attuned to God’s Spirit, always ready to do what needed to be done. As teacher, professor, principal, paralegal she attended to the need in front of her. She always encouraged, supported and found ways to help people develop their gifts, enhance their skills and use them to benefit others. She did this as she lived her life with faithfulness, dedication and clarity that the Spirit of truth will guide you. Joel spoke the truth from her heart. It was clear, direct and always for the sake of the dear neighbor which is part of our charism as a congregation: love of God and neighbor without distinction.
Last evening we gathered to pray together, remembering Sister Mary Joel, Eileen, Aunt Eileen+ without sharing our memories out loud. We were invited to reflect on our memories of Joel in our life, hold them and share them by doing what she had done for each of us. This is our challenge and this is our way of saying that how Joel lived her life made a difference in our world and we will do likewise. Joel we know that God was with you all of your life and now you enjoy the fullness of God’s love. We are so grateful for your faithfulness and zeal. We thank you, we promise to imitate your selfless attention to the needs of others and we love you.
Sister Mary Joel Acerno, CSJ died on March 21, 2014 in the 66th year of her religious life.