In Loving Memory of Mother St. Sean of Mary (Sr. Eileen Kelly, CND)

A Tribute to Sister Eileen Kelly (Mother St. Sean of Mary)

by Mary Lou Powderly

Although today we celebrate the passing of a stunning life, she will always be a part of who we are.  Within the comforting confines of St. Jeans, she cared for us but never babied us, she counseled us but never talked down to us, she disciplined us but never demeaned us and she directed our maturing Faith. She understood our adolescent persona and encouraged us beyond our youthful limitations for she saw in us possibilities and potential that we could not yet see in ourselves.  She was always gracious to our parents, knowing that parents needed to hear nice things about their offspring.  She was always honest and caring with them and they left knowing we were in good hands.

For me as for so many of us she was a mentor, role model, and a special presence.  She laid the foundation of my science experience, influenced my personal formation, watched as I tearfully graduated from St. Jeans and was present as I tearfully graduated from Notre Dame, S.I. at which event I said to her, "Mother, I am not leaving here" and she in her typically calm definitive manner said, "Yes dear you are."

When I began teaching at St Jeans my assigned homeroom was 204 which was my senior homeroom and where I had all my science classes and labs....the memories came flooding back, her spirit was there for me and I thought how appropriate.  I recall an instance that emulated her great calm, we were in the lab making nitric acid, very dangerous indeed, she uttered not a single word but clung to her rosary beads every step of the way.  She taught us with a sense of humor, she made us laugh.  Another perception of her was that Mother never seemed to walk; her tall impressive figure seemed to glide through the halls which always amazed us.  She was always around after school; she liked us, how refreshing for budding adolescents.  As moderator of the Sodality she nurtured our Faith, our devotion to the Blessed Mother and our service to others.

In telling of Mother's passing to classmate Eileen Clifford we were so grateful that we visited her on the Sunday of our 60th reunion weekend two years ago and celebrated her recent 90th birthday. We are so grateful for that last time together, a happy memory.  I am sure one of those who greeted Mother as she entered eternity was Ann Kavanaugh, one of our classmates who died too soon, who probably said "What took you so long, let's party." 

She was a mentor and friend whose teaching style I tried to emulate and although she is known today as Sr. Eileen Kelly she will always be Mother to me and my classmates. I have used the following sentiment on rare occasions to sum up a life.  These words come from the Prison Writings of Jesuit Father Alfred Delp, who was imprisoned for saving our Jewish brethren from the Nazis.  They are as follow, “if through one life a little more love comes into the world, that life is indeed worthwhile.  Mother St. Sean of Mary's life was indeed worthwhile.