Sister Mary Anastasia Rivard, MM

Born: April 15, 1906
Entered: October 13, 1925
Died: December 22, 1974

On Sunday morning, December 22, 1974, Sister Mary Anastasia Rivard quietly and unexpectedly slipped off to heaven. Up until the evening before she was busy doing the countless services, large and small, for the Sisters at Bethany that so characterized her total selflessness. When Sister had not appeared Sunday morning, another Sister checked her room shortly before 11 a.m. and found her asleep in the Lord.

Sister Mary Anastasia (Gladys Rivard) was born in Republic, Michigan on April 15, 1906. When she entered Maryknoll on October 13, 1925 she was the only daughter in a family with nine brothers. The same year her first sister was born. Her family eventually numbered ten brothers and three sisters.

Sister Anastasia made her first vows on April 30, 1928 and was assigned to Korea the same year. She served at Gishu, Yang You and Peng Yang. Here her talent at sewing was well used in the Industrial Department. In 1939 she was assigned to Punahou and continued on in Hawaii until 1963.

To know Sister Anastasia was to love her. She had a delightful sense of humor which often burst out into contagious laughter. She was a woman, however who tolerated no fuss or fussiness. What she did she did simply and well and with a seemingly effortless generosity. In fact, she had that rare gift of doing nice things for people, even in the midst of personal physical suffering, as though it were a privilege to do them.

She could be a confidant in the very best sense of the word and could be depended upon in any need.

For those who knew her, it is her forthrightness, the simplicity of her heart and soul that won their affection. The simple message she gave, without speaking it, was that she had made a total gift of herself to God and as the days and years came and passed, the message was even clearer that she had never taken back the tiniest part of that self—gift.

In 1963 Sister was assigned back to St. Teresa’s at the Center where she served as first councilor. When St. Teresa’s closed in 1968 she was assigned to Bethany where for the past six years she has served the Sisters quietly and devotedly in many ways while acting as assistant coordinator much of the time.

Enclosed in the Christmas cards Sister Anastasia recently sent out was a notice of her approaching Golden Jubilee, including the following paragraph:

“The New Year of 1975 will bring the Celebration of my Golden Jubilee as a Religious. Although this is still quite early to be making this announcement, yet by including it with my Christmas greetings, I can save a few pennies. Also it gives me the opportunity to ask you to join me in prayer and thanksgiving for the innumerable blessings I have enjoyed these past 50 years. Probably I would not be with Maryknoll today, if it were not for my dear mother’s complete selflessness. My first little sister was born the same month I entered.”

The above paragraph expresses so much of Sister in her own words. Her “first little sister” along with another sister and three of her brothers arrived at Maryknoll on Monday, December 23rd to be with us for the Mass of the Resurrection which was held at Bethany on the morning of Christmas Eve. Sister Anastasia will be celebrating her Christmas feastday as well as her Golden Jubilee with all her loved ones who have gone before her.

Found on Sister Anastasia’s desk was the following favorite quote of hers which sums of her life:

“To love is to give everything and to give oneself.” (St. Therese)

In the Proceedings of the Tenth General Assembly just concluded we read: “Our bond with those who have touched our lives by sharing our commitment finds a special expression at this time. (in a Sister’s last days of illness and death)”.