Wake Service

Photo of Sister Carla Koestner, SSND
Sister Carla Koestner, SSND

The author, Sister Judy Best, had a conversation with a 95-year-old Nun Study participant, Sister Carla Koestner, SSND.

Sister Judy: “Can you describe the annual evaluation you share with the Nun Study staff?”

Sister Carla: “Yes, they show you names of ten objects and then several minutes later ask you to repeat them, watch how you walk and follow directions, etc”.

Sister Judy: “It sounds like these evaluations give valuable data for their research. And I’m aware you also donate your brain to Dr. Snowdon’s study.”

After a dismayed look this former math and science teacher said with a quizzical smile:

Sister Carla: “What’s left of it!”

As we parted I asked what she thought her next step was. Without a moment’s hesitation, she laughed and said: “The cemetery!”

Death and new life give focus to all the events in between. The spirituality of the School Sisters of Notre Dame encourages viewing death as moving toward a deeper relationship both with a loving God, those who have gone before us, and those we leave behind. This Communion of Saints offers continued consciousness of our departed Sisters. Our Catholic liturgy reminds us that “Life is changed, not taken away.” For death is seen as our ultimate act of worship. In this context reflect on the Wake Service as a way of praying that reality.


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