Sister Marita Goodall, MM

Born: September 16, 1895
Entered: October 14, 1925
Died: March 18, 1986

“Now there are varities of gifts but the same spirit… All these are inspired by one and the same spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Cor. 12)

We are reminded once again of the mystery of death and the mystery of call as we reflect on the life of Sister Marita Goodall who died in our Nursing Home on March 18th, 1986 at 06:00 P.M.

Martha Clair Goodall was born September 16, 1895 in Omaha, Nebraska. She was one of 9 children born to Francis and Johanna O‘Dea Goodall. After graduating from St. John’s High School in Omaha, Martha attended Creighton University Summer school and obtained a Teacher’s Certificate and some medical training which enabled her to become a surgical stenographer before entering Maryknoll.

Through the Chinese Mission Society in Omaha, Martha became interested in mission and entered Maryknoll on October 14, 1925. At Reception time she was given the name, Sister Marita. She made her First Profession of Vows on April 30, 1928 and Final Profession on April 30, 1931.

We can describe the life of Sister Marita very briefly as one who served in various Maryknoll Communities in the United States. Her skills as a teacher, infirmarian and housekeeper were appreciated from Coast to Coast, including 2 years in the Cloister from 1933 to 1935. Her last years were spent in Monrovia until she was admitted to the Nursing Home in 1982. Somewhat reserved, always pleasant and friendly, generous and prayerful, enjoying the company of others and doing things in community – qualities which will be long remembered by those who knew and loved her. She will be missed by those who lived with her and by those who served her in the Nursing Home.

But, somehow, to only describe her life would be to miss the profound message that is in the life of this seemingly ordinary person. I ask myself, what was it in her life that sustained her in an extraordinary life for 61 years – not always doing the things she dreamed of, perhaps not even the things she liked?

In 1929, Mother Mary Joseph gave the following reminders to a group of young professed Sisters, including the young Sister Marita. It may give us some insight: “…I want to impress on you today the necessity we have of one another and of the dependence the community as a whole has on each one of us. We are all apostles here, each with the gifts God has given her, to use for His purpose. We know that some of us have great intelligence and we know that there are others who have not. We know that some have had many educational advantages before they came and others have not. Some are gifted with artistic dispositions and we know too that others could not draw a straight line. God has for some reason brought us all together with these many different gifts into this work. One of the things we should realize in the beginning of our religious life is the need to be content with the gift which God has given us.”

I think Sister Marita believed this and took it seriously. She was faithful to the commitment she made to the community and to God. She was content to use the gifts God had given her for the community and for mission; she was conscious of the necessity of dependence on one another. She herself expressed it when she wrote in 1980, “My greatest satisfaction is in my religious life, made missionary by prayer.”

As we think of these words and Sister Marita’s life, we are challenged to reflect on the essential aspects of lives like these — Sister Eulalia and Sister Marita – exploring the nature of a God who is faithful to His people and of women who were faithful to their God. Let us thank our God for the life of Sister Marita, faithful, these 61 years spent with us.

We extend our sympathy to Sister’s relatives and friends. We know we are all united in spirit as together we join Father John Harper of Maryknoll in offering this Eucharistic celebration of love and remembrance for Sister Eulalia and Sister Marita.