Underneath the interactions, psychological exchanges, split-second decisions and general drama that plays out over the course of a lifetime are these things called assumptions. Assumptions are deep, invisible realities that dwell in our souls and dictate how we act. They end up there through our experiences in a given household, culture, religious tradition, race, economic background, etc. Because there is a period of time when we have not yet developed a reasoning capacity to filter what gets transmitted into us, we just end up accepting it all and carry all of that baggage around with us. Thus, when we talk to another person, hardly is it two human beings who are communing, but rather two containers of assumptions ego-dueling, as we try to figure out what is inside the other person and strive to protect our own “stuff.” What a pathetic vision for life! The life of Jesus, especially crucified, is nevertheless an invitation to “put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4) and go through the long process of emptying ourselves of these assumptions (cf. Phil 2:7). Indeed, through a life of prayer, discipline and obedience to the Father, we shall instead come face to face with the millstones that have been around our necks through the years (cf. Mt 18:6). We shall learn to assume good will and begin to enjoy positive relationships. We shall have life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Sister Ann Therese McAndrew, CSC (1925-2020)
(Sister M. Florinda)
A Faithful Friend of St. Joseph
Sister Ann Therese McAndrew left clear instructions on the details of her funeral. She had been a faithful member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross for 77 years when she died at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, at age 95. She asked that there be no memento for her, thinking it would be an imposition to have another sister in her entrance group, or band, feel compelled to extol her virtues as a fellow woman religious. As it happened, she alone was the surviving member of her band who entered in September 1943. As for the memento, she insisted, “Just speak about the goodness of St. Joseph. I consider him my good friend.” St. Joseph was an appropriate friend to accompany Anna McAndrew throughout her life. In traditional Catholic spirituality, St. Joseph is the saint of a hidden life, who fosters and protects the child and the family. The Sisters of the Holy Cross taught her in elementary school at St. Theodore, describing Anna as a very good young lady coming from a fine Catholic family. Anna applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1943. She received the habit in 1944 receiving the name Mary Florinda, with her older sister by four years, Mary Catherine, entering the Congregation only the month before. Since 1967, Sister has been known as Ann Therese McAndrew, and reclaiming the McAndrew surname was apparently important to her since she left instructions to give all her “Irish possessions” to her family upon her death. Everyone attests to Sister’s devotion to her family. At her Mass of Resurrection on January 4, 2021, the hymns selected by Sister included ones from her brother’s and sister’s funerals. Within five days of her sister’s death, Sister Ann Therese wrote asking permission that she be buried next to her sister’s grave in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery at the motherhouse.
Sister Ann Therese emulated St. Joseph, whom tradition calls a worker, provider and guardian. She was known for being dedicated and conscientious in all her duties, rarely taking a sick day. She was an accomplished seamstress and cook who shared her domestic talents with others. Her material needs were minimal, being content with what she had. Sister credited her friend St. Joseph as significant in her life of service. “My first ministry was at St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, Indiana, and my last ministry was at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.” Sister had attended Lindholm Technical High School in Chicago, taking four years of commercial courses but later pursued educational ministry instead. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in education at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1963 and a master’s in education at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1968.
From 1946 to 1970 Sister Ann Therese spent 24 years as a teacher in elementary education. In 1970 she transitioned to serving as a receptionist or office assistant in schools, 10 years at Holy Cross School and 33 years at St. Joseph High School, both in South Bend. Whether in the classroom or the school office, she was known for her keen understanding of children and adolescents. Students and staff loved her. Sister was shy, some say timid, but she bore herself with dignity and grace, a lady from head to toe. Her bright eyes and open smile made her approachable. A parent wrote, “In her simplicity she was a role model for religious life, particularly for the teenage kids in the high school she loved.” In all her 68 years of ministry, she served only in Indiana and Illinois. In July 2014, she retired to a full-time ministry of prayer at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Hers had been truly a hidden life. She had lived her life quietly as a consecrated woman religious following Jesus Christ. Sister Ann Therese loved God with all her heart, soul and mind. And she did her best to love her neighbor as herself. (Adapted from the obituary by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)
I have this friend who had been in an alcoholic marriage and went through a very difficult divorce. She once told me that she landed in that mess because her “picker” was broken and that she needed to get it fixed before she could make any other major life decisions. This was very unusual language, but I understood her meaning immediately. Her “picker” as she called it – the capacity to discern and make decisions – had been damaged by some traumatic experience and had atrophied as a result of a lack of use over the years, rendering her incapable of choosing the good and thriving as a human being. We too have “pickers” that, like hers, affect everything we do in life, but in order to think clearly and choose well, it is vitally important that we look to Jesus, the “picker” par excellence, who made the definitive decision to enter into Jerusalem (Mt 21:20-11), to accept the heavy burden of the Cross (Mt 26:42), and to hand over his earthly life to his heavenly Father (Lk 23:46). Indeed, by meditating upon and adopting the patterns of the life and journey of Jesus, we too shall reclaim that core part of our souls that is responsible for thinking and choosing and in so doing adopt a constant habit of picking that leads to eternal life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father William Evans, CSC (1919-1971)
Missionary and Martyr
The following was written by Father Robert McKee, CSC.
In the cemetery at the side of St. Francis Xavier Church in Golla parish in the Diocese of Dhaka [Dacca] in Bangladesh there is a very well kept grave. The cement marker gives the name of Father William Evans, CSC, noting that he died on Nov. 13, 1971. He was just 52 years old then. He died at the village of Noabganj about five miles from his parish in Golla. His death occurred toward the end of the nine-month civil war between East and West Pakistan.
On Saturday, November 13th Father Bill boarded his boat with a friendly Golla man at the paddle. As they approached Noabganj, a soldier beckoned the boat to shore. A freedom fighter, secure in the jungle across the river, gave us his story of what followed. The soldier escorted Fr. Bill to the headquarters of the army post, near a school a short distance from the river. About twenty minutes later, two soldiers escorted Fr. Bill back to his boat. His luggage was examined – Mass equipment, a change of clothing, a few books. These items were thrown into the river. The solders ordered Fr. Bill and his boatman into a trench, dug by the army for security for post guards. Suddenly, the boatman broke into flight, running around a bend in the river bank. The soldiers firing but missing the boatman, quickly turned to Fr. Bill, striking him with their bayonets. A soldier fired twice at Fr. Bill, one bullet entering his back and exiting near his neck. The soldiers immediately threw Fr. Bill’s body into the river. The next morning, about four miles down the stream from Noabganj, a boy examining his fish traps discovered Fr. Bill’s body. The body was carried on a litter by a path a good distance from the army post of Noabganj, and by noon of November 15 Fr. Bill’s body was delivered to Archbishop Ganguly and the others at Golla. That afternoon Fr. Bill was buried in the presence of many Moslems, Hindus and Christians who knew and loved him.
Why do so many remember Fr. Bill Evans? [Because] he was fully at the service of other persons, sharing his concern, his personal interest and love. In every mission where he served his twenty-six years of priesthood, Christians, Moslems and Hindus will never forget the priest who was personally involved in their lives. He carried his nearness to God into his life as a preacher. He never missed an opportunity to preach. And he developed a real talent in bringing the Lord to life for his people by his words and his understanding of the life of his people.
Today, at Stonehill College, North Easton, MA, there is a house named EVANS HOUSE that stands as a memorial for Father William Evans, CSC.
Awareness is a very popular topic in modern psycho-spirituality. When we become aware, that is, when we see the phenomena of cause and effect clearly and accurately in our lives, we are empowered to live in the truth and to act justly. The challenge of course is that, insofar as the scientist is always part of the experiment, our efforts to become totally detached and have a totally objective view of things will always be compromised. This is why we must look to the Cross! The Cross is a boundary marker, a placeholder and a point of reference. The Cross exists independently of my particular psychological landscape and will always be there – etched in my very soul – to serve as the line of distinction that allows me to freely step outside of the drama of the self and stand in some new place. The primary fruit of this act of awareness is the gift of being with the Father, the fulfillment of the fundamental desire that motivates our whole lives. Let’s not get deluded into thinking that we need some fancy method of meditation or the wisdom of some new age guru on this spiritual path. Let’s instead become everyday mystics by digging deep and humbly accepting the gift of the Cross as it already exists in our lives. In this way, we shall invite others into this same act of awareness that makes us free to be children of God together. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!