Sister Mary Genevieve Beez, MM
Born: March 9, 1896
Entered: February 10, 1921
Died: June 2, 1945
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy will.”
The words of the text this morning I know are very, very dear to each and everyone of you Sisters in this chapel. You recall that those words were spoken by the first woman to be called by God to bring His Son made man to the souls for whom He came. As I say, you love those words, you have taken them to your hearts; I think I might say they have become a motto, a slogan with all our Maryknoll Sisters.
“Behold a handmaid of the Lord” – she whose mortal remains lie before our altar this morning could ask for no more satisfying recognition, for that was her ambition, her triumph to be a handmaid of the Lord – to spend and to be spent in the service of the Divine Master.
I believe it was twenty-five years ago in the year 1920, that the future Sister Mary Genevieve left her Ohio home and came to our Maryknoll. She brought with her a beautiful simplicity, a selflessness of character, that made for extreme generosity. During the seven years she labored here, I mean, her postulancy, novitiate, and during the years of her Professed Sisterhood here, many of you know only too well how devotedly she served and how humbly and tirelessly she labored, and what a grand person she was to live with. I remember as a student here how we often referred to her as the little Sister who seemed to be always working and always smiling.
In 1927, Sister Mary Genevieve Beez was appointed to the mission in Korea to become Superior of our Sisters who were laboring for souls in that most fruitful vineyard. I think that I must say that she became to those Sisters a “Mother” Superior. I am very conscious of the fact that many beautiful words beyond my power of expression could be spoken of Sister Mary Genevieve’s ten years in the Korean mission. Some of those words would tell of her love of the Korean people, others would describe her zeal for their souls. Beautiful words, too, could be told of her loyalty to and cooperation with the parish priests. And right here, my dear Sisters, as one of those priests, who had the privilege of spending a few years in the Korean mission, and I think I speak for all of us there when I say we will be a very, very long time forgetting to pray for the soul of Sister Mary Genevieve, It made no difference who you were – what parish you came from, how many Baptisms you had – you were a priest of God – a Maryknoll priest – it was her privilege to help. The greatest favor you could do for Sister Mary Genevieve was to ask her to do something for you.
But I would like to tell you, too, of the mission in Gishu. Many of you here this morning lived at Gishu in Korea. Happy days were many in that mission. But I think that an added joy came to the lives of all of us on the occasional visits of Sister Mary Genevieve to her Sisters – to those Sisters whose labor in Gishu I think for a beautiful, glorious chapter in the history of the Korean mission. I remember on teh occasion of one of her visits I asked one of the children, “Do you know Sister Mary Genevieve?” and the child said, “Father, we all know Sister,” and she added this, “and Father, when we have met and talked with her we always feel better.” People were better because they met Sister Mary Genevieve. It might have been a Christian in Yengyou, or in Pengyang, or Shingishu or Gishu; it might have been your Sisters who lived with and loved her so much, but with all, everyone of us saw someone who loved us, and we recognized as did those Christians in Korea – “a handmaid of the Lord” – someone who because she was selfless, could give herself entirely her heart, her mind, everything she had to the interests, joys and the cares of other. They found in her one who encouraged their efforts, brought them comfort in their difficulties, and so beautifully shared their joys.
Yes, my dear sisters, I believe that in this world, many souls are stronger, many hearts are braver and happier because Sister Mary Genevieve lived.
Sister Mary Genevieve left us on Saturday – her soul has gone home; and all of us gathered around the altar this morning on which has been celebrated Sister’s Requiem. We join our prayers with the prayers of the priest for someone we all love very, very much.
To Mother Mary Joseph, to all you Sisters, sympathy from all of us at the Seminary. We appreciate the fact that your sorrow comes from sadness in Sister’s death, because her death was a happy death; it arises more, I think, from the loss of (the help of) a devoted Sister, and of a true friend; and to the Sisters of Korea – your sorrow comes from the added consideration of the loss of one who was very much a mother to all of you.
As I say, you have the sympathy and prayers of all of us at the Seminary. And now I am sure that the memory of Sister Mary Genevieve will never perish from our prayers, and after this ceremony is over and we go back to the routine of our daily lives, in our communions with God again and again we will raise our voices in prayers for her soul in the words – “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.” God bless you!