The Wheaton Franciscan Sisters invite your prayers for
SISTER MARY PATRICK SALM
February 14, 1930 – December 2, 2020
On December 2, 2020 Sister Mary Patrick Salm breathed her fullness into the abundant love of her life: God. She walked Earth for 90 years with the goodness who she knew as Trinity: One who is Love, Beloved and Lover. And thus she grew in wisdom, grace, service, humor, simplicity and mysticism as our “Sister” Pat!
She was destined to be a lover, for she was born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1930, in Chilton, Wisconsin. Her parents, Emma and George Salm, named her Alice Katherine. As she grew in life and Wisdom she chose, at the age of 20, to join her heartfulness with the Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – the community in the USA known as the Wheaton Franciscans. Among these sisters she professed her heart to God with final vows in May, 1956.
Sr. Mary Pat lived and served in Wisconsin hospitals of the Wheaton Franciscans until 1979 when she was called by the Wheaton Franciscan Leadership to be a nursing assistant among her sisters in community at Our Lady of the Angels Motherhouse, Wheaton, IL. She accepted this call because she felt rooted in the scripture of Romans 12: 12-16:
“Be glad for all that God is planning for you. Be patient in troubles and prayerful always. When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out. When others are happy, you be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrows ... enjoy the company of ordinary folk ... “
Sr. Mary Patrick lived, loved and grew wise and beloved as she grew into being a mystical woman who enjoyed time with her God, serving others and telling stories, all with a twinkle in her eye and in and with laughter. She was a living Valentine! She wrote that she hoped to be remembered as a happy one who leaves an afterglow of smiles and an echo whispering, “I love you!”
It is so, Beloved Sister! Thank You!
Homily on the Funeral of
+ Sister Mary Patrick Salm,
December 10, 2020
For the people of Jesus time and culture there were three sacred places, - the temple where they gathered to worship, the home where they prayed and honored their family, and the land that brought them both joy and nourishment. In each of those places, they found communion with their God. Jesus often turned to the familiar images of temple, household and land to uncover the meanings of his teachings. In more than one gospel text he points to the cycle of nature, the planting, growing and harvesting, to explore the more profound mystery of death and resurrection. In the seasons of nature, we can see that “teaching” unfold around us: the seeds planted in fields and gardens bring forth a harvest of color, texture and nourishment. Having grown up on a farm Mary Pat never forgot her roots (she would have looked at me as though to say, did you just say that?). Almost every weekday morning at mass, she would offer an intercession for farmers and for good crops. Jesus tells us that the word of God is the seed that is planted in each of us and throughout our life webring that word to fruitfulness, by our choices, our actions, our respective vocations and our relationships. We are the sacred ground in which the word of God takes root, and Jesus is the gardener who gently tends to our growing pains as we shape a life of discipleship. Even in the winters of our life when we encounter pain, suffering and grief. In the first reading Woman Wisdom tells us that we are the gold of God’s own hand, worthy, blessed and holy. Sister Mary Patrick was part of the sacred ground of God’s creative love. She was a willing and fertile recipient of the word of God so loving placed within her heart. And she had a heart of gold, filled with a love that could not be contained; or I should say, she chose not to contain it, but to share it so generously, and with a delightfulness that was contagious. And she didn’t give in to the limitations of the later years of her life. She would never shrink from a challenge, especially with health issues. She did not despair over limitations. I think she would have pulled off a good promotion for the use of
2 power wheel chairs, - a bit reckless perhaps, but she was not deterred from exercising her freedom. Her other sacred place, in the years that I knew her would be this chapel, and I suspect that was true wherever she served all the years of her life. I think she made the Stations of the Cross every single day, winding her way through the aisles in her red power chair. When we rearranged the seating into its current formation I asked her where she wanted me to put her chair and she said wherever you like, I’ll be just fine there. And that’s how she got to right there; I miss seeing her. Her name is still on her chair, maybe we’ll put a plaque there. Today we as we gather in a variety of sacred places we celebrate how we are in communion with each other because of the love we have known for and from Mary Pat. The hospitality of God is set before us, made visible in the work of human hands, - the signs and promise of the bountiful harvest of God’s love. But there is another place prepared for us, as Jesus assures us, an eternal banquet at the end of our earthly journey, - to that place we are invited, because grace and mercy await the ones whom god has chosen. In the words of Woman Wisdom, they are the elect. The life of Mary Pat life was truly a blessing for all those who loved her and who will miss her presence. God has called her to that place that has been prepared, to take her place at the banquet of eternal life and love. And if St. Peter asks about a menu preference she’ll remind him, with the inimitable twinkle in her eye, to skip the mushrooms! My dear friends, on this day we commend our sister and our friend Mary Patrick to the risen Christ, the one whom she loved and served with dignity and grace.
Fr. Phil Horrigan