Sister Mary Just David, MM
Born: January 2, 1891
Entered: June 30, 1921
Died: June 24, 1959
The message brought to you in this letter will not come as a surprise, since the Motherhouse Newssheet has prepared you for it. Our dear Sister Mary Just passed away this morning at 12:41 A.M., on the Feast of St. John the Baptist – a saint to whom Sister Just had particular devotion.
Sister suffered a long illness, the first symptoms of which were noticed in December, 1957. Death came as a blessed release to the brilliant mind that had so patiently borne the shackles of long physical weakness.
Sister Mary Just (Florence Didiez David) was born in Greenville, South Carolina, on January 2, 1891. She entered Maryknoll June 30, 1921 and was Professed April 19, 1924. In a short biographical account she was asked to write in 1954, Sister Mary Just said. “I am of French and English parentage, and spent my formative years largely in France, Switzerland, Germany and England. I took my degrees (B.A. and M.A.) at the University of London. Before entering Maryknoll I taught French at Wellesly and Smith Colleges, and was converted during these years. As an infant I was baptized in the Episcopalian Church.”
Sister Just’s apostolate for the greater part consisted of writing. She assisted on the Field Afar staff until 1936, when she went to Los Angeles where she taught in the Japanese school for six years. When the Japanese were interned during the war, Sister returned to the Center. Her biographical account of 1954 relates: “Since returning to the Knoll I have been patching up other peoples’ manuscripts for publication and getting in a bit of writing for myself.” The “bit” included the series of four mission books for young people, “Our Neighbors the Koreans”, “…the Japanese,” “…The Chinese,” “…of the Andes”; “Immortal Fire”; “Rome and Russia,” and in collaboration with Father Kent – “The Glory of Christ.” The final product of Sister’s pen was “The Digest of Catholic Mission History” which came out in the Spring of 1958, just after the onset of Sister’s last illness. At the time this little volume appeared, Father Considine wrote the following beautiful testimonial to Sister’s efforts: “Our heartfelt thanks to you, Sister for this latest, of the many precious contributions which you have made to Maryknoll’s work. One of my earliest recollections is of your quiet poise and expert day to day labors as editorial assistant to Father Founder in the production of The Field Afar. At your desk today quite as during the almost forty years since you first entered the office you present the same picture of faithful, unremitting dedication to Maryknoll’s missionary goals. We regard you as a symbol and sterling exemplar of devotion for all who now and in the long tomorrow will carry on the apostolate of the pen for our two communities.”
When Sister Just entered Maryknoll she indicated as her reason for wishing to come — “To live for God.” In an article written for The Field Afar in 1927, (The Beauty of Thy House) which was reprinted in the January 1957 issue, Sister put into the words of the protagonist her own sentiments: “The Maryknoll I have always loved is founded in eternity. It is not a building nor a human society. It will endure forever in the Mystical Body of Christ. Throughout the ages I see men and women who have died to self in order to live to God. I see souls who will behold the Beatific Vision because of this sacrifice. This is my Maryknoll, an Eternal City built on a hill.”
Surely the patient suffering of the past year helped to complete the holocaust of death to self and we add our suffrages in the hope that very soon Sister may behold the Beatific Vision together with these other souls for whom she offered her sacrifices.
Sister’s funeral will take place at Bethany, Friday morning, June 26, at 9:30 o’clock.