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1st anniversary of Sr. Loretta's death-Fr. Andrew Lee

One year ago, we had to send our beloved Sr. Loretta to God. The moment came abruptly and unexpectedly, so all of us were shocked and confused. It was around 6:30 in the morning when I received the news from Dn. Bill. I had a monastery mass and passed that news to people in the monastery. And I had a daily mass here and told you the news. Everybody was shocked and sad. It was one year ago. It seems to be yesterday. I can’t believe it’s already been one year.

Today we remember Sr. Loretta. As we celebrate the 1st anniversary of her death, we commemorate her devotion to God and the religious life and her entry into God’s house. Looking back on one year, we realize how much she had done for all of us. It has been hard to ignore the trace that she left and engraved in Holy Cross parish. She was like a mother to the parish. People had issues in their lives and brought them to Sister. She accepted, embraced and listened to them. When they got hurt, Sr. Loretta was the one who gave them consolation and spiritual directions. They opened their hearts and had a heart to heart talk and left with peace and joy. She was like a spiritual leader of the parish. She navigated where the parish was supposed to sail. She always knew that the goal was Jesus Christ. She gathered people and led them to Jesus. She was a good grandmother to the kids. Do you remember that kids went into her office every Sunday and made it their playground? Sr. Joan still keeps her office wide open so that kids can go in and grab candies. I believe the kids will remember Sisters’ grandmother-like love when they grow up and look back on their childhood. And I saw some mothers bring their babies when they just had them. They went into the office and showed their babies to Sr. Loretta. Sr. Loretta was like their grandmother hugging, rocking, and smiling at them. As we commemorate Sr. Loretta’s death today, we are still connected to her and know that she remains our mother, our spiritual leader and a good friend of ours.

She’d had a huge influence on our parish and the people who knew her, and over the past year, it was hard to settle the impact that the loss has given us. I stood sometimes and looked at the pictures that we have posted on the board in the fellowship hall. Sometimes I asked Sr. Loretta when I was busy doing the job she did, “How did you handle these problems while you were running this parish? Please help me.” She has been my help and counselor since she passed. Even though we have been through a great sense of loss over the past year, we believe Jesus gathers us together around His table, whether for the departed or for the living. We believe Sr. Loretta is still sitting with us at the heavenly table Jesus prepares for all of us. This is the communion of saints that we have with the heavenly Church.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” He talks about the historical breakthrough by His sacrifice and divine uplifting by His resurrection. He knows that all humankind will be together at the foot of the cross and be delighted when they experience the resurrection. Jesus gathers people through this Paschal mystery. We are still participating in the communion with Sr. Loretta by celebrating the Eucharist, the Paschal mystery. We are supposed to keep sharing communion around God’s table like we had done with Sr. Loretta when she was alive.

This strong communion gathers us together through the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the first reading, St. James advises, “submit yourselves to God. Draw near to God, cleanse your hands, purify your hearts and humble yourselves before the Lord.” How do we do this? When do we give in, purify, and humble ourselves? Yes. We do this in the Eucharist around God’s table. We still share this joyous moment in the communion with Sr. Loretta by attending God’s feast together.

As we celebrate the 1st anniversary of Sr. Loretta’s death today, let us offer ourselves and our beautiful memory of her in this mass and have a strong communion with Sister in the presence of God. This way we will be able to continue to live in Sr. Loretta’s passion and love toward God and His people.

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