Sister Marion Sedgwick, MM

Born: December 1, 1897
Entered: April 30, 1924
Died: March 30, 1990

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it”

Even though we will not be saying these words in the Liturgy until Easter, they are surely in our hearts as we say farewell to Sister Marion Sedgwick who died at 6:45 P.M. in our Maryknoll Nursing Home on March 30, 1990. Her life journey was a model of acceptance of all God had prepared for her, and each one of us can learn much from Marion, in life and in death.

Marion Katherine Sedgwick was born in Mamaronek, New York on December 1, 1897 and grew up in Scarsdale, one of three children of Theodore and Margaret Beales Sedgwick. Her education was at home, in a private school, at White Plains High School and the Library School of the New York Public Library. Marion entered Maryknoll in 1924, attracted by The Field Afar she said, “When I first visited Maryknoll, before I even got inside, I felt this was the place for me.”

After First Vows in 1926, Marion was sent to our school in California where she made her Final Vows in 1929; of that time, Marion wrote in 1984, “My three years at the Los Angeles Home for Japanese children were the most satisfying. I loved the children.” In 1930, she was assigned to the Philippines and she worked in our Normal School in Malabon and in St. Mary’s Dormitory in Manila. She remained in the Philippines until 1937. A brief period at the Los Altos Junior Seminary preceded what was to be Marion’s longest assignment – thirty years with The Maryknoll Magazine. She understood well that, as she herself wrote, “I have an important part in working for the missions even though not in the actual field.” Her last years were spent working in Rogers Library here at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. She kept up on everything; I was never at a Forum with her that she did not have a cogent, well—formed, challenging question for the speaker.

In both reviewing all we know of Marion’s life, and in talking with those who knew her as a person, it seems she has achieved an integration of life and holiness that many of us strive for. This woman was nearly seventy when the Documents of the Second Vatican Council were published. In 1968, a special meeting was held for our senior Sisters at Topsfield, to look at needed changes. She was stunned by the reactions of some who could not see that “The Spirit of Christ is more important than outward observance of the laws.” Their anger astonished Marion who saw change as life and growth. It is very clear that this understanding was the fruit of a deep interior life as evidenced in Marion’s own words as she explains how her life, even in physical diminishment, could be lived for others:

If I feel cold physically, I remind myself that many people are cold and indifferent to God’s love for them. Then I pray for these people. If I feel hot, I remind myself that many people struggle daily to overcome their tempers. Perhaps someone is being tempted at this moment to commit murder in our city. Then I ask God to help this person to calm down and be at peace. The radical obedience and simplicity of Marion’s life is summed up in the story of her last assignment, to the Maryknoll Nursing Home. Marion was told that she needed the care provided there, and although she didn’t like it, she agreed to go upstairs. On the appointed day, the Sister assigned to accompany her went to Marion’s room to get her. She wasn’t there and a search of the area ensued. But Marion had “turned herself in”, as she put it, announcing to the nurse at the desk, “I am Sister Marion Sedgwick. I was told to come here at this time. Who is in charge?”

Since that day in March, two years ago, Marion has had many good days with walks outdoors, visits with her loved and loving family, especially her sister-in-law, her niece and nephew.  In the end, death was gentle; as she was told that her family loved her, she slipped away.

We extend our sympathy to Marion’s family today as we unite with Maryknollers all over the world in remembering Marion. And may we all be able to say on our 60th Jubilee Day (as Marion did) that “The changes of the past sixty years have deepened my missionary vocation as I see the need of God in our lives as Religious.” May that need of God be met in each of our lives as we celebrate the Liturgy of The Resurrection for our Friend and Sister.

Father Ron Saucci, M.M. joins us this morning to preside over our Eucharistic Celebration.