Sister Mary Assumpta Duffy, MM

Born: December 9, 1893
Entered: June 7, 1922
Died: July 20, 1977

Once again we bring you the ‘good news’ that one from amongst us has completed her pilgrimage and has been brought into the Lord’s Household to enjoy what He has prepared for those who love Him.

Sister Mary Assumpta Duffy died at Bethany on Wednesday, July 20, 1977 at 3:50 p.m.  Sister Mary William, her sister, went to Bethany on Sunday and remained there ‘on watch’. Though Sister Assumpta didn’t speak, she seemed to be aware, nevertheless, of those trying to help her during these last few days.

Ann Loretto Duffy was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on December 9, 1893. She entered Maryknoll on June 7, 1922, made her vows on December 8, 1924 and received her first mission assignment to the Philippines in 1926. She remained in the Philippines for 20 years giving service at Malabon, Manila and Lucena. Her responsibilities as procurator entailed providing all those “little and big things” which kept the Sisters and boarders “well-fed and housed” with a minimum of expense, time and concern on the part of those involved in other ministries – chores which were taken for granted, but which were so necessary for the “spirit” of the place.

Sister Assumpta was interned by the Japanese in Assumption Convent with 48 of our Sisters in January, 1942, for about 2 years; and later was transferred with them to Los Banos Prison Camp until February 23, 1945 when all were rescued from behind Japanese lines by U.S. paratroopers and Filipino commandos, Even while she was a prisoner at Assumption, Sister’s managerial skills and culinary gifts were put to the test as she was responsible for keeping the Sisters alive when food and fuel were literally unavailable. Her knowledge of local foods and her ingenuity were important to the survival of the group. It was here that she devised a simple fireless-cooker, which provided the necessary energy to bake the beans long after the daily meager fuel supply had given out for the day.

After recovering from illness, which resulted from this experience in the internment camp, Sister Assumpta continued in service of her Sisters for another 20 years at household duties at the Center, Venard, St. Louis, Los Angeles and at San Juan Capistrano. In 1965 she suffered severe injuries in an automobile accident in California and, after recuperation, retired at Monrovia. She came to Bethany in 1976.

The Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated today, July 22, at 4:00 p.m. in the main chapel of our Center.

As a Community, we again experience death and because we believe that victory over death has already been won for us by Jesus, we ask ourselves what is this death’s life-giving message now for you and me? From the bare external facts of Sister Assumpta’s life, we can say that she was a quiet, hard-working, prayerful woman with the usual frailties of human nature, who lived her vocation to mission within the circumstances which occurred in her lifetime. We may even say, matter of factly, “another ordinary life completed.” But we cannot reflect on Sister Assumpta’s death apart from the death of Sisters Patricia and Imelda; otherwise, we’d miss the full impact of the Lord’s word. Here were three Maryknollers, with three completely different personalities, responding to the events of their lives, which were so different for each Sister, but through which each used her personal gifts so well.

These Sisters were motivated by their love of God, sustained by their life of prayer, and remained faithful to God whom each knew was with her through it all. These were simple lives, active in ordinary ways, but very full because despite their foibles, they did not live for themselves. Are we doing likewise? Or, are we continually searching for something else, looking for just that right opportunity of service and circumstance that would enable all that is potentially with us to blossom, while letting the little ordinary things that we can do well remain small and insignificant without really knowing the fullness of fulfillment within them? These Sisters lived simple lives; unheralded by headlines or the evening TV news or mission news; but I think we can hear Jesus say to the Father, “…having ears, they did listen; having eyes they did perceive; and having hearts, they did understand.”

So, as we offer the Mass of the Resurrection for Sister Assumpta and thank God for her life of quiet simplicity, let us joyfully join Jesus in ushering her to her true home.

“Come, Sister Assumpta, you have the Father’s blessing! Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:34-35.)