Sister Edna Foster, MM

Born: August 28, 1908
Entered: June 13, 1938
Died: January 5, 2000

“The Spirit of God is upon me, who has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. Who has sent me to proclaim release to those who are captive and recovery of sight to those who are blind, to let those who are oppressed go free…” These words from today’s Gospel speak of the spirit which enlivened Sister Edna Foster’s life and ministry. In a 1971 newspaper interview, while she was working in the Philippines, she stated that her goal was to participate in the liberation of man so that he may achieve his full dignity.

Today we gather to remember our Sister Edna Foster who dedicated sixty-one years of her life to working for the liberation of all peoples. Sister Edna Foster died in Phelps Memorial Hospital, Sleepy Hollow, New York, on January 5, 2000. She was 91 years of age. Edna was born August 28, 1908, to Edna Miller Foster and Daniel Thomas Foster in San  Francisco, California. Edna’s mother died when she was fifteen years old. She had two brothers, Donald and Thomas.

Edna attended San Raphael High School and graduated from St. Rose Academy in San Francisco in 1926 after which she took a course at Miss McAllen’s Secretarial School. She also studied literature and  journalism at the Universities of California and San Francisco as well as managing their home for her father. Her work experience included two years of clerical work for Western Stopper Company and advertising and secretarial work for the San Francisco Chronicle. Edna and her brother owned and managed the Mann Herald in San Anselmo for two years. After her father died in 1938, Edna was attracted to Maryknoll and mission by an article she read in a Propagation of the Faith magazine.

Edna entered Maryknoll on June 13, 1938, and at Reception received the religious name of Sister Daniel Marie. She made her First Profession of Vows on January 6, 1941 and her Final Profession three years later in 1944.

Edna spent three years in the Cloistered Community from 1946 to 1949 where she took the name of Sister Daniel Marie of the Rosary. Many of the Sisters who lived with her during that time commented on her generosity and loyalty.

From 1950 to 1959, her assignments found her involved in various ministries here at our Center such as secretarial duties, work in the kitchen and mission education. In 1959 she was assigned to Houston, TX, for a year of catechetical work before being assigned to Walterboro, SC, in 1960 where she served as superior for four years. Edna obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Mary Rogers College in 1967 and was assigned to work in the Philippines that same year. During her nine years in the Philippines, which she described as the happiest of her mission life, her work included teaching in high school, in-service training for the faculty, consultant on vocational projects, and parish Bible study groups. In 1975, as Edna began looking toward semi-retirement, she studied Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila. The Maryknoll Sisters with whom Edna lived at that time commented that she always brought much life to their community as she would return from her hospital ministry filled with many delightful stories to share with them.

In 1976, Edna returned to the United States and was assigned to Monrovia, CA, where she immediately became involved in visiting the sick at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Orange County. She also enrolled in courses in Health Care Facility Activities Coordination at Pasadena City College and Hospice of Pasadena. She gave generously of her time volunteering in the Hospice of Pasadena and making home visits to the sick of her parish until 1986 when she returned to our Maryknoll  Sisters Center to retire. In a letter written to one of her friends she spoke of her formal assignment to the Center as a “move toward my ‘roots’ and where most of the good things for my journey had their beginnings.” Her prayer was that “God will grant me the grace to embrace every opportunity to serve with joy in ministry and community at the heart of Maryknoll.”

The last ten years of Edna’s life were spent in our Residential Care facility. She was a very active member of this community and could always be counted on to give opinions and suggestions and to  participate in its many activities. One of her Prayer Ministry assignments was to pray for the Maryknoll employees and volunteers. Edna took this responsibility very seriously and not only prayed for them but also took a great interest in them and their families. She was always involved in some project or another as she looked for ways to share in the lives of those on the staff of Residential Care. She used to ask her niece, Marge, to send her jigsaw puzzles and it would give her great joy to share them with the staff and their families. She also bought pamphlets written in Spanish explaining how to pray the Rosary and she distributed these to anyone on the staff who desired them.

Since she was always interested in everything and everyone, she had a second Prayer Ministry assignment which was to pray for Zimbabwe. This, too, was also a responsibility to which she responded with great enthusiasm.

At the time of her Golden Jubilee in 1988, when Edna was asked what she treasured most and what made her life in Maryknoll worthwhile she responded: “My greatest treasure is the gift and privilege of prayer. My fifty years in Maryknoll have stretched me beyond what I could have been or done alone. The strong community support and leadership make me realize God’s great gift of a vocation to Maryknoll. It is a mystery beyond my comprehension.”

As Edna thanked God for the gift of her Maryknoll vocation, we, gathered together today, wish to thank God for the gift of Edna Foster to our Maryknoll Congregation and to mission. We are grateful for her sixty-one years as a Maryknoll Sister.

We wish to thank Sister Edna’s family for sharing her with us all these years. We are united with each of them as we celebrate Sister Edna’s life, death and resurrection.

In the name of the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation, I would like to welcome and offer our condolences to Sister Edna’s family and friends. I would also like to welcome our Maryknoll brother, Father Gerald Nagle, who will preside at this Liturgy.