Sister Joseph Cecelia Muller, OSU

Wake Reflection for Sister Joseph Cecelia Muller, OSU

In the name of the community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, I offer our love and sympathy to Sister Joseph Cecelia’s family and friends. To the staff in health care and pastoral care, past and present, our sincere gratitude. To each and every Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, I acknowledge this bittersweet moment of joy and grief to Sister’s classmates, Sisters Marie Brenda, Philomena, and Mary Mercedes, our heartfelt sympathy, and to you, Sister Marie Julie, our love and gratitude for much more than we could ever express in words.Sister Joseph Cecelia was born Mary Rose Patricia on March 2, 1923 in Louisville, Kentucky, the only daughter of Joseph Nicholas and Cecelia Aloysius Ballman Muller. Mary Rose Patricia had four brothers.In reflecting on her memories of childhood, Sister Joseph Cecelia writes. “My favorite memories are the times as family we spent together making candy, playing cards, or listening to good music on the radio.” Sister Joseph Cecelia names her mother as the special person who touched her life. She writes: 09My mother was so gentle and patient always. Her children came first.”

As I read through correspondence between Patricia Muller and Mother Laurine Sherron in December 1944 and January 1945, prior to Patricia’s entrance into the postulancy program of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, I was given a window into other circumstances of the early life of Patricia. She writes: “When I look back and think how I felt after my parent’s deaths, I can surely see how good God is. I could have gone just as far wrong, as I now want to go right. The power of example is a wonderful thing and frightening, too, when I realize that just as much will be expected of me some day. I hope and pray I’ll justify all that has been done for me.”

The letter continues: “It is so hard to keep from feeling selfish when all the other girls are joining the army. They do need nurses and badly. It is a lonely battle to decide which is right. When they ask me, I tell them I’m going to join the army too. God’s army. That quiets their questions and my own as well. My brother thinks I’m crazy to give up my training as a nurse to enter a community where I’ll probably teach school. Mother, if I have any great sense of loss after I enter, it will be for my work. God gave me my work when I would probably have cracked if I had had time to think. I truly love my work. For a while it was the only form of prayer I knew and through it I learned how to really pray again. I know what I’m doing. Mount Saint Joseph needs nurses, but, if for some reason, that should be taken from me, I pray for the grace to give it up in the right manner. And if you

don’t have a Joseph Cecelia, please don’t let anyone have that name before I get there. They were my parent’s names. They would be happy for me to enter the community and happier still if I could take their names. Please leave the door wide open and pray that nothing happens in the next month.”

On February 2, 1945, Mary Rose Patricia Muller entered the postulancy program of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. On August 14, 1945, she received the name of Sister Joseph Cecelia. Temporary vows were professed on August 15, 1947 and perpetual vows were professed on August 15, 1950. Sister Joseph Cecelia’s life of ministry as an Ursuline began as teacher in 1947 at Saint Thomas School in Farmington, New Mexico. In 1950 she came back to Kentucky and ministered as teacher in the schools of Saint Mary Magdalene in Sorgho, Saint Thomas More in Paducah, and Saint Catherine in New Haven. In 1956 she came here to our motherhouse and served as infirmarian from 1956 until November 1979. During that time 123 Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph joined the communion of saints and our Sister Joseph Cecelia accompanied most of us. During many of the years that followed 1979, Sister Joseph Cecelia served as consultant to the staff in our infirmary. Gardening and needlework, too, became cherished ministries for her. She writes: “Since leaving the infirmary, I’ve enjoyed my garden work and needlework. I try to be with my Sisters when they’re dying.”

Recent years have found Sister Joseph Cecelia, night after night, praying the words ascribed to Father Paul Joseph Volk: “The glory I aspire to is such as will make me find a charm in my trials, my sufferings, my humiliation, my persecution and my affliction. We ought always be joyful because we serve so good a master.” She also prayed the prayer to Father Paul Joseph Volk, created in 1999 in celebration of our 125th anniversary of Ursuline presence at Mount Saint Joseph. Her own closing prayer, penned on the archival form, MY STORY, reads: “Lord, let me serve you in serving my Sisters.”

Sister Joseph Cecelia, you prayed with confidence because of the achievement already secured over evil and death through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is true that springtime officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, in Maple Mount, Kentucky, but it is truer that the springtime of your soul began on Monday evening, March 17, feast of Saint Patrick. The glory to which you aspired is yours! What wondrous love is this.

Sister Rose Marita
Congregational Leader 2000-2004
March 19, 2003