Sister M. Justin Greenwood, MM
Born: April 26, 1893
Entered: April 5, 1927
Died: January 17, 1977
“I want those You have given me to be with me, where I am.” (John 17:24)
On Monday evening, January 17, at 6:40 p.m., Sister M. Justin Greenwood died quietly and peacefully at Bethany. Following five years of patient suffering at Bethany, her death causes us to exult and rejoice with her. The Lord has taken her to Himself so that she might always see His glory.
Grace Olive Greenwood was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1893. As a member of the U.S. Army Nursing Corps she served and was decorated for her overseas service in France (St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne Defensive Sector), which marked the beginning of her long years of dedicated service. It was not until after the war, however, that Grace Olive was baptized, in 1923, as a Catholic. “The Lord won,” she told her priest-instructor, who said of her in his letter of recommendation, “I noticed she was of the type that would become a very earnest and sincere Catholic if ever she could be convinced.” In 1927, four years following her conversion, she entered Maryknoll, where she was both professed and assigned to the Philippines in 1929. Following years of dedication and hard work at St. Paul’s Hospital, in the walled city of Manila, both as a nurse and as a laboratory technician, Sister Justin was interned as a prisoner of war – first in Santo Tomas in 1942 and later at Los Banos prison camp. Many tales of her thoughtfulness and service during those years between 1942 and 1945 could be relayed by our Maryknoll Sister “ex-convicts,” if we had volumes to write. In 1945, along with many others, Sister was repatriated to the U.S. She served tirelessly in the years that followed at the Center in the Infirmary laboratory until her health demanded that she go to Bethany in 1972. Many of us, who trained in medical work during those years, experienced her keen interest and ever present willingness to be of help.
Perhaps if we were given only one word with which to describe Sister Justin, it would be the word “determined.” She was determined in her zeal for the things of God; she was determined in her devotion to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady; she was determined to be of service wherever she could; she was determined even in her search for those elusive little amoebas and as a result – always with a twinkle in her eye – offered healing to many of us. In her last years at Bethany, her determination was manifested in her patient, quiet acceptance of her limitations. “She demanded nothing,” one of the nurses said of her. She prayed for the happy, secret moment when she could slip away and be with her God. Her going on ahead is felt very keenly by many and we ask for consolation. For Sister Justin, herself, our prayer is one of thanksgiving and praise for the gift of herself to us. We ask her to continue extending her healing hand to us and intercede for us with the Lord of Life.
Five priests concelebrated the Mass of the Resurrection in our Motherhouse chapel this morning; burial followed in our Maryknoll cemetery. As a veteran of WWI, the flag was draped over Sister’s coffin symbolizing her years of service to her nation and to her God.