Sister M. Eucharista Coupe, MM
Born: July 24, 1905
Entered: September 24, 1923
Died: February 2, 1997
“I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me will be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). These words, taken from today’s Liturgy of the Resurrection, so beautifully describe the life of our Sister Eucharista. Sister Eucharista touched the hearts of many people throughout her 92 years of life, 74 of which were lived as a Maryknoll Sister.
On Sunday evening, February 2, 1997, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, Sister Eucharista died peacefully in our Residential Care Unit. Sr. Eucharista slipped away that evening having lived a long and good life.
Mary Monica was born on July 24, 1905 in Longridge, England to Alice Anne Eastham and Herbert James Coupe. She had four brothers and five sisters. Her four brothers, Augustine, Frederick, John and Austin, a Carmelite priest, all preceded her in death, as did two of her sisters, Theresa and Maryknoll Sister Marie Estelle. With us are her sisters, Sister Magdalen Mary and Sister Mary Olive, Sisters of Mercy from Attleboro, Mass. Her Maryknoll Sister Ann Miriam missioned in Monrovia, CA is unable to be with us today.
Early in Mary Monica’s life, the Coupe family moved to Providence, Rhode Island and Monica became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1920. At the age of 18, on September 24, 1923 she entered Maryknoll at the Venard in Clarks Summit, PA. At Reception she was given the name of Sister Mary Eucharista. She made her First Profession on April 30, 1926 and took her Final Vows on the same date, three years later, in Baguio, Philippines.
Sister Eucharista served thirty-six years of her missionary life in Asia, beginning in 1928, when she was assigned to Malabon Normal School in the Philippines. In 1935 she was transferred to the China Region where she taught for seven years in Hong Kong. During World War II she was interned for eighteen months in Stanley Prison Camp, then went to Loting, China and eventually was evacuated to Calcutta, India by flying over the Himalaya Mountains by the famous Flying Tigers in 1944. She returned to Hong Kong in 1946, taught secondary school students and was later appointed Principal of Maryknoll Sisters School, Blue Pool Road. In 1964, she returned to Maryknoll to serve as Dean of Mary Rogers College.
Sister Eucharista had a special charism for working with young women in pursuit of a good education. She herself had been a student many times in her own life: at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Maryknoll Teachers College, St. Scholastica College in Manila, Philippines, studying harmony and piano, Saint John’s University in Jamaica, New York where she received a Master of Arts degree in English, and in Oxford, England where she spent a summer studying 17th century Literature and Art. Her own student days had prepared her well for her ministry in education and mentoring. She is remembered as a wonderful teacher who motivated her students to strive for excellence. On December 30, 1995 one of her former students from Hong Kong wrote:
“I want to tell you how much you have influenced me during the years that I was your student. In my heart and mind, you are not only the best teacher I have ever had, but you were the first one who had given me the love and concern I needed so desperately at that time of my young life. The two years spent in Mauritius I did not attend school, so it was the foundation you laid in my learning that got me into university. More significantly, however, it was the role model you provided that has somehow kept me from being totally absorbed by the materialistic world around me, even after I had pushed you and God to the back of my mind. Let me now thank you, belatedly though it is, for all that you have done for me and the love you have given me. I know we shall meet in heaven one day, but meanwhile I shall be praying for you every day.”
Sister Ruth Greble from the Sudan Region, after receiving the news of Sister Eucharista’s death, wrote:
“What a blessing to have a friend who asked nothing from me except that I be myself. We were assigned to work closely together in Maryknoll. [Sister Ruth was president of Mary Rogers College at the time Sister Eucharista was the Academic Dean]. Although not apparent, I too, was her student who now treasures the hidden lessons she taught me of living in peace, trusting God and loving all.”
After the close of Mary Rogers College in 1973, Sister Eucharista spent the next twelve years as assistant coordinator of the Senior community at the Center. Retiring in 1985, she continued to do part time work. After completing eight years in Congregational Service, in August 1989, Sister Suzanne Moore, then Vice-President of the Congregation, wrote:
“The hours during these last years that you gave to teaching English to candidates, students and struggling missioners symbolize for me your belief in others.” Indeed, she supported, encouraged and loved us all.”
In March 1994, due to failing health, Sister Eucharista was transferred to Residential Care. During these past three years, her English students continued to visit her regularly. She remained deeply interested in them and all that concerned them. In the course of conversation, if they made an English mistake she was prompt to interject, “tsk, tsk”, a teacher to the end!
We thank our Maryknoll brother, Father Emile Dumas, who will preside at this Eucharist of Resurrection. Let us thank God for the gift of Sister Eucharista’s life. In the words of Sister Ruth, “Sister surely is in the radiant presence of Love itself, has no need of these words – but I have a need to thank God for so great a gift these past thirty years; a need to sing the song in my heart; a need to remind myself that God is true to the promise of abundant graces one hundred fold, graces as near as the sister next to me. I see you smiling Euchie!”