Tonight we attended the wake of a woman who really "walked the walk," "put her money where her mouth is," and stood up for what she believed in. I first met her when Little Brother was a baby and I was trying to take him to daily Mass. He, of course, was noisy and I, of course, was upset by that--as well as by a few cranky churchgoers who didn't want to hear baby noise in church. But Jeanne made sure I knew that Little Brother and I were welcome at Mass. She'd seek me out and tell me stories about how she'd bring her six children to church and how they'd misbehave; she'd tell me not to lose heart.
Jeanne trained the altar servers in the parish and made sure that they served properly and reverently. That meant that she was usually in the sacristy before the 9:30 Mass, where the children's choir would gather. Middle Sister was part of that choir, and she has memories of Jeanne being there among all the children. When she was old enough, Jeanne helped her learn how to serve at the altar, a ministry Middle Sister continues today, although we are in a different parish now.
Jeanne was a Secular Franciscan as well, and she truly strove to live a Gospel life. Whether it was through her prolife work, her ministry within the parish, or her encouraging presence, she lived her faith and she wasn't shy about sharing. Everyone knew her because of her collection of hats, but everyone who knew her knew that she was much more than just a senior with her own sense of style.
The Bishop said tonight that Jeanne has traded in her hats for a halo (probably a colorful one!)!
I am grateful for the time Jeanne took to encourage me when I needed it. I hope that I will never neglect to do the same for someone else.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.