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Angels gathered around the bedside of Sister Mary David Mulroy shortly after midnight on Thursday, September 24, 2015, and prepared to return her spirit to the One who created her as promised sixty-nine years ago at her first profession as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor. As Sister Mary David’s body weakened, Sisters Ann Cecile Albers and Paula Huecker and her good friend Sister Mary Lawrence Vanderburg kept prayerful vigil for this vibrant woman who lived life with passion, enthusiasm, and conviction as a woman religious.

Helen Elizabeth Grein and David Joseph Mulroy raised their six children in an atmosphere of warmth and love, steeped in the values of their Catholic faith. David provided for his family as a foreman in a glass factory in Lancaster, Ohio. Patricia Ann, born July 11, 1925, attended St. Mary Catholic School. She graduated from St. Mary High School in 1943, and on August 15 that year, just four days after her eighteenth birthday, Patricia with the Mulroy family traveled to Cincinnati where she began initial formation as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor. When received into the novitiate, Patricia Ann was given the name Sister Mary David.
Following her first profession of vows on May 31, 1946, Sister Mary David was assigned to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. While waiting for classes to begin in the School of Nursing, Sister used in the hospital offices the secretarial skills she learned in high school. Sister Mary David received her nursing diploma in 1949 and was missioned to St. Mary Hospital in Quincy, Illinois. While there, she prepared to profess her perpetual vows on May 3, 1951. After the profession ceremony, Sister Mary David ministered in hospitals sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor in Kansas City, Kansas, and Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and continued her education by participating in various programs in theology and hospital administration.
In 1964 Sister Mary David responded to the call to serve as a missionary in Brazil where she ministered to some of the poorest of the poor in Pires do Rio, Ipameri, and Goiânia in the state of Goiás and also served in the administration of the Brazilian Province. Following her father’s death, Sister returned to the United States in 1981 for an extended time to care for her ailing mother. After her mother died, Sister returned to Brazil in 1982 where she spent another year in Ipameri and then ministered in a new mission in Carambeí, in the state of Paraná.
Sister Mary David returned to the United States in 1989 and spent time acclimating to the post-Vatican II church as well as life in the USA. Sharing community with the Sisters at St. Clare Convent, she assumed responsibility for the finances of the local community. Plagued by a chronic heart condition, Sister Mary David retired in 1999. In her retirement, she kept her local
community abreast of Congregational and US Area happenings by checking, printing, and posting emails and articles and other notices.

Never one to sit back and let others take care of her, whenever a meeting or celebration was held at the convent, Sister Mary David greeted visitors with a smile and offered directions to those less familiar with the convent buildings. She worked countless jigsaw puzzles and welcomed others’ contributions to completion of the puzzle. Her favorite puzzle of a collection of colorful butterflies—a reminder to her of the Final Resurrection—was framed and hung outside her door on the Magnificat Unit wall. Sister Mary David participated in Congregational meetings and US Area Assemblies, never hesitating to raise questions and share her views no matter how challenging they might be.
She maintained a close relationship with her cousin, Fr. Blaine Grein, OFM, and delighted in their visits when he returned to Cincinnati from various missions. He visited in the days before Sister Mary David’s death and anointed her.
The halls of St. Clare Convent will seem empty without Sister Mary David’s hearty laugh and mischievous eyes. If you sought her, you just needed to wait a few minutes and her laugh would let you know where to find her. At the recent celebration of Sister’s ninetieth birthday, she enjoyed the presence of her brother Gene and his family. The convent chef prepared her favorite meal of sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and spareribs, cooked as her mother did for the Mulroy family. The number of birthday cards and flowers nearly overwhelmed her.
In her last months, Sister Mary David began to let go of possessions and certain responsibilities, preparing for the arrival of Sister Death. A deep devotee of the Blessed Mother, she spent much time in prayer, always responding to special and urgent prayer requests.

Sister Mary David, we pray that you share your joy with the heavenly residents and that our memories of your life among us, your Sisters and family, gives us smiles and laughter. Every time we add a piece to a jigsaw puzzle, we will think of you. We trust that you will remember us in your new life.

Sister Arleen Bourquin, SFP
September 28, 2015

The following are some testimonials from our Sisters who remember Sister Mary David with great affection:

“Sister Mary David was always a ‘welcoming person’ as she sat at the front door when visitors were expected. And the door to her room was always open for a chat. At mealtimes there was much sharing and contagious laughter at her table. When able, Sister was in the chapel every day after the noon meal, sitting in her chair quietly praying, remembering in prayer all those who asked for prayer. I miss her welcoming spirit and her big smile.”
— Sister Clarita Frericks

“Whenever I met Sister Mary David at St. Clare Convent, she was gracious and friendly. She had a hearty laugh and loved to use it. I often saw her making a puzzle with Sister Mary Lawrence Vanderburg in the evening. They both enjoyed it. I never had the privilege to live with her but always enjoyed sitting at the dining room table with her when I visited. She made me feel as though she enjoyed my being with her.”
— Sister Bernadette Sullivan

“I agree wholeheartedly with the qualities and virtues mentioned in the comments of the Sisters in Brazil that Sister Marilyn shared. I remember well when Sister Mary David and I lived at the mission in a southern state of Paraná and the convent was so small that there was insufficient room for a stove and we had only a gas tank for cooking. With the temperature 2°C below zero during the months of June and July (winter there), Sister Mary David had mercy on us and bought an electric heater for each of us three Sisters. May God reward her for this act of mercy. For it is He who said: ‘Come you blessed of my Father. I was cold and you warmed me. Whatsoever you did for the least of my brethren you did unto me. Enter into the kingdom of my Father’.”
“I share too this anecdote from the Bouqueirao Day Care Center in Parana where Sister Mary David worked: One day a small child surprised everyone by a ‘discovery’ that he made. Sister Mary David loved to laugh heartily and one day she was laughing with her head thrown somewhat backward and her veil fell off. The little boy shouted excitedly, ‘Look, look, Auntie has a head.’ (As a courtesy, the children called the staff people ‘Auntie.’).”
—Sister Daniel Marie Meade

“Mary David helped me to enjoy my experience in Brazil in 1986. She loved PINGA, a drink similar to our ‘white lightening’ homemade booze. When I would cut her hair, she always invited me to stay for lunch. I loved her laugh and her hospitality!”

—Sister Bonnie Steinlage

“Besides her wonderful gift of joy and laughter, a very special quality I have always admired in Sister Mary David is her kindness in speaking about others. I have never heard her speak ill of anyone. She truly lived the Gospel call Jesus gave us to love others. When I first moved to St. Clare’s, we used a beautiful prayer she had written that included these two sentences: ‘Give us the grace to be prophetic witnesses by putting into practice the Gospel message of this day.  Jesus, I ask that all our conversations and actions be affirming and seasoned with your love.”  
—Sister Mary Madonna Hoying

“The Magnificat Unit had the privilege of caring for Sister Mary David six months before she began her journey home to God. Although she was among us a brief time, her life had a powerful impact on each of us.
“Joy. Sister made us aware of the simple joys of life: a beautiful butterfly, an intricate puzzle, a beautiful song, and that truly unique smile!
“Gratitude. One of her most powerful gifts to us was gratitude. Each simple task was met with sincere gratefulness. The grace of these special moments filled us with joy.
“Truth and Compassion. Sister knew how to listen—really listen—and offer her nonjudgmental truthful advice, sometimes sprinkled with her special wit!
“Deep Spirituality. By her example, we strived to be our best selves. Her profound love of God and humanity inspired us with love.
“We will miss your human presence, Sister Mary David, and we will forever hold you in our hearts!”
—The Magnificat Unit Staff

“Sister Mary David became a postulant of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor on August 15, 1943, and I entered on September 8, 1943, so we spent a year and a half together in the novitiate.  From day one I was moved by her hearty, full-throated laugh. She just automatically spread joy around her. Among other things, she made me feel so close to her family—her mother and dad, of course; then Sis, her older sister whose name was Loraine; Fr. Brice, her Franciscan priest brother who became a missionary in the Philippines until his untimely death; her younger brothers, Gene and Donnie; and her little sister ‘Baby’ Ruth. Then we also got to know her uncle, Father Cornelius Grein. Her family was obviously a loving one, and she spread the joy and the love that she grew up with. She had a heart that anyone who met her could feel. May that love continue to spread and touch lives.”
— Sister Marie Clement Edrich

“Her joyous laughter filled the room. She was a person fully alive, always ready to share her thoughts on life’s meaning. She loved books. She faithfully made beautiful pictures from the jigsaw puzzles she finished.”
— Sister Madeline Marie Hill

“Dear Mary David, you will be remembered for your love of butterflies. I remember the first time I did some painting—it was a butterfly and I gave it to you. Every time I see a butterfly, I will remember you.”
— Sister Marie Martin Smith


[Below is a poem written by a nurse on the Magnificat Unit at St. Clare Convent. The poem was read during the wake for Sister Mary David.]
                Rainbows, Butterflies and Sister Mary David

Surround her, Lord, with rainbows,
our reminders from above
That You keep your every promise
and You hold us in your Love.

Surround her, Lord, with butterflies,
that whisper on the air
Of life and love and laughter
and beauty everywhere.

Surround her, Lord, with Heaven’s light,
with joy that’s new each morn,
May her faith be our example,
and in our hearts reborn.                      
                                                       
   —Beverly Kaye 2015

“Sister Mary David was an example of love and dedication. She had a profound humility and she did not hesitate to ask pardon if she happened to commit a mistake. May you rest in Peace.” -Sister Maria Terezinha de Jesus

 “We are grateful to God for the gift of her life and the years which she served the Congregation and, in a special way, Brazil.” - Sister Helena Paula Carvalho

“Sister Mary David  was a very dynamic person, joyful, humble and attentive to the Sisters and the people whom she served. In her actions she showed compassion and love to the poor.  May she rest in Peace.” - Sister Maria Antonieta Batista

“Sister Mary David transmitted to me joy, determination and courage. To her my thanks for the work she did for the Congregation, especially in Brazil.” -  Sister Lécia José da Silva

“Sister Mary David was a simple and dedicated person, who spared no sacrifice to give all of herself to our brothers and sisters in need to whom she dedicated such loving care. She had a great devotion to Blessed Frances Schervier, and always motivated us to deepen our love and understanding of her charism and life story. Her fraternal encouragements contributed to edify the Congregation here in Brazil, and helped us to grow together in unity.” - Sister Tânia Maria Ribeiro Machado

“I am close to you in prayer for the soul of Sister Mary David. I have a good remembrance of this Sister when we went to Saint Clare Convent in 2011. She was very kind to us.” - Sister Jacqueline Compaore

 

 Published: December, 10, 2015