Introduction to Sister Beatrice Koerper’s own life reflection…..
Sister Beatrice Koerper lived the seventh decade of her life in Advent expectation, waiting, with her lamp trimmed, for the bridegroom to come for her. In the closing hours of December 25th, 2011 her dream to be Home for Christmas came true. She died at St. Francis Home, where she had been a resident for almost four years.
Sister Bea was born on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 1934 to Lloyd and Leona Koerper. The youngest of six, she has two living sisters: Ruth Wank of Tiffin and Marjorie Wasserman of Fremont. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Rose Collier, and two brothers, Bernard and Eugene Koerper.
Sister Bea earned a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Fordham University. She served God’s people as an elementary school teacher at Carey, Edgerton, Fort Jennings, Bucyrus, Millersville, Payne, and Peru. She was the director of religious education for the Ottawa Center and for St. Gerard Parish, Lima. She served her Tiffin Franciscan community as the director of postulants and novices and as a community councilor. She also served as a pastoral associate in Morganfield, Kentucky. It was while she was in Morganfield that she established St. Mary of the Angels Hermitage, where she lived as a contemplative and spiritual guide before returning to the motherhouse in 2003. Sister Bea continued serving others as a contemplative and spiritual guide until the time of her most recent illness and death.
The following reflection was written by Sister Bea six years ago.
None of you will be surprised that I wrote some reflections to be shared with you – as you gather to celebrate my passage into the fullness of life with God.
You are gathered here as the ones who knew and loved me. You are the ones who gave meaning and vitality to my stay on earth. You are the ones to whom God entrusted me; you are the ones entrusted to my love. Nothing else makes any difference. Because God made us One-knit together in His heart, you and I can never be separated
All of you know what I have done in life – teaching, formation work, community leadership, parish ministry, and hermit life and spiritual direction. I hope you know, too, what I have believed in. I believe in a God who is infinite love – a tender care that nothing be lost. I believe in a God who brought me forth from the depths of His being and has ever been Father to me. On Him, I have depended from my youth and God has never failed me.
Somehow this has connected for me in Eucharist. I feel that I have been especially blessed/graced to center my life in Eucharist. For me, Eucharist-that eternal song of Thanksgiving, has been what it is all about. Each day we are offered anew with Christ to the Father, we too, are consecrated, broken, and blessed, given as food to others even as we receive the Body of Christ as our Sustenance.
Eucharist is Thanksgiving, and my heart is filled with gratitude as I write this. Gratitude first of all to God for the gift of life and for a life of Faith. Gratitude to my good parents who showed me the face of God. Gratitude to brothers and sisters and in-laws who were just more brothers and more sisters. Gratitude to you nieces and nephews who were like my own children. Gratitude to you my Sisters in community-who were my companions on the journey and my Friends. Gratitude to all you people I met and ministered with. Some of you are the children I never had; some of you took the place of Mom and Dad, some of you were brothers and sisters. All of you were friends. My heart is filled with gratitude because LOVE has been so good to me along the way. I have no regrets about life. I made mistakes, yes, but no regrets.
My memories are good ones. I look back upon folks like my Mom and Dad, Mother Euphrasia, Sr. Bernadette, Emery, Jim Huffman, and all who went before me. They inspired me and they continue to this day to be one with me. I hope you who are gathered here will remember me as one who loved you, too.
Eternity will not be long enough to sing God’s praises. Listen carefully to your heart and there in your depths where God dwells you will hear me singing my song. And you will know you are held and loved and a part of you has already gone into eternity. I’ll be waiting to see your face. If you can, bring a cat when you come to heaven.