Wake Reflection for Sister Joseph Adrian Russell
It is with a heavy heart that I write this reflection at the request of Sister Joseph Adrian. As I close a chapter in my life as Health Care Administrator, Sister Joseph Adrian opens the final chapter of her life. She suffered silently these past several months, as she patiently waited for the Lord to beckon her home. She never lost her charm or her smile. It was her style, her trademark, and a living witness of gentle love that won many a heart.
In the name of the community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, I offer our love and sympathy to Sister Joseph Adrian’s family and friends, especially to you, Isabel and Martha, her sisters. To Sister’s only classmate, Sister Rose Emma Monaghan, our heartfelt sympathy. To the Health Care staff, our gratitude for the care and love you gave to her.
Sister Joseph Adrian, born Anna Beatrice Russell, better known as “Babe,” on January 16, 1914. She was the ninth child of eleven. Her parents were Frank William Russell and Mary Josephine Blandford. She had great love and devotion for her family, and enjoyed being in their company as often as possible throughout her years.
Sister Joseph Adrian on numerous occasions would say to me, “I am my Mother.” I believe she was more like her Father, as she described, “a deeply prayerful and insightful man who captured the heart of a soul through his open and compassionate understanding.” No person was too great or too lowly in her eyes. She believed in a deep prayer life, loyalty, and a caring spirit. She was a gift to so many, and her smile was like a tonic to every heart. Her care and love was always evident by the way she spoke, the way she touched our lives, and the way she gave freely of herself to each person she met.
As an educator, she gave Christ to others through her example and her love for life. Her years of teaching were as long as the roads she traveled, beginning in 1935 at Curdsville, Kentucky, on to Missouri, New Mexico, then Arizona, and back home to Mount Saint Joseph in 2001. The Southwest was one of her all time favorite missions. Many students and friends remember her fondly.
Sister Joseph Adrian, as many of us do, pre-planned her own funeral arrangements. She requested that her biography not be read. She knew that I didn’t follow her request, totally, since I had the graced opportunity to share this reflection with her before her Beloved called her home. She preferred the reading of several special scriptural passages from the Prophets Isaiah and Job, Matthew, Corinthian, and the Psalms. Let us listen to these words Sister Joseph Adrian wishes us to hear.
From Isaiah we read: “…God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation, and say on that day: Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” Isaiah 12: 2-6.
From the Psalms we read: “As the deer longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. Athirst is my soul for God the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?” Psalm 42: 2 –3
From Matthew we read: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11: 28
From Job we read: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” Job 1: 21
From Corinthians we read: “Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, and it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Sister Joseph Adrian, with joy and gratitude, we lovingly return you to your God. You have fought the good fight and have won the race. Now, go, and behold the face of God!
August 6, 2008
Betsy Moyer, OSU