Sister Maurine Cote, MM

Born: September 6, 1928
Entered: October 5, 1946
Died: May 16, 1995

We gather to celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection for our Sr. Maurine Cote to celebrate her life and to be reminded once more of God’s love for her and how she returned that love by a total acceptance of what she understood to be God’s will for her. Hers was to be a life of extreme physical suffering which she lovingly and joyfully embraced. In her last letter to family and friends, written on November 6, 1994, and after 33 years of gradual physical disability and increasing pain Maurine wrote the following:

“I want to share with you a new diagnosis (besides that of MS) that I received in September. I refer to it as a birthday present, really, in the form of a ‘ticket’ to a new life that will never end. The medical name for this ticket is multiple myeloma.

I intend to accept whatever therapy can be given here at Maryknoll, but choose not to go to the hospital or Doctors outside for such as blood transfusions and etc.

With this note, I am asking you to rejoice with me. I have had a very good life and a very full life. Praise God!

I ask you now to pray only that I do not waste the precious opportunities that lie ahead before I ‘cash in’ on my ‘ticket’, especially the opportunity to grow in my interpersonal love relationship with Jesus through my call to Mission as expressed in our vows.”

Maurine Ann Cote was born on September 6, 1928 in Jefferson City, South Dakota to Alcid and Louise Cote. She was one of five children, three brothers, Roland, Donald and Duaine and one sister, Leatrice. Maurine graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Willow City, North Dakota in 1946 and entered Maryknoll on October 5th that same year. Maurine made her First Profession on April 6, 1949 and Final Profession at the Motherhouse on April 6, 1952. Between 1949 and 1952 she studied and received her degree in nursing from St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Hartford, Connecticut. Maurine once said that she felt she would “burst with joy” if anything else happened to her in 1952 – graduation, final vows and assignment to Chile all in the same year.

In Chile Maurine spent one year of language study in Curepto and was then assigned to Santiago where she taught in a newly founded parish elementary school. She eventually established a parish clinic in that poor and marginated area. Her facility in speaking Spanish, her outreach to the poor, her nursing and teaching skills were enhanced by her deep spiritual life. She was tireless and joyful in her presence and service to others.

In 1960 Maurine was assigned to San Pedro Necta in Guatemala as Superior. Shortly after her arrival she began to experience muscle spasms and stiffness in her legs and the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was made. For almost ten more years Maurine carried on her nursing work in the San Pedro Clinic and taught in the parish. As time went on she needed the aid of crutches and by 1967 had to succumb to the use of a wheel chair.

With the help of the Maryknoll Fathers, Joseph Rickert and Joe Towle, our Maryknoll Sister Teresa Lilly, and many parishioners, ramps and a homemade elevator kept Maurine involved in her mission to do and be for others. She trained indigenous girls with only a grade school education to give simple medical treatment and also taught them classes in health and home-making. She continued to teach religion and train catechists and at the same time in the evenings met with the parents of her students. Again, Maurine’s indomitable, cheerful approach and response to her call to mission endeared her to all.

In 1971 Maurine was carried to a plane for her return trip to the States where she took up residence at Bethany. While at Bethany she received an invitation to live and work in the Villa Maria Nursing Home in Fargo, North Dakota. Special arrangements had been made through her brother to become a resident and to do “wheel-chair” instruction in the nursing home. Her desire to be active was fulfilled through involvement in the Birthright program, the Cursillo Movement, vocational work and visiting disabled residents in the nursing home. Maurine was once again deeply and happily involved in pastoral ministry. In 1984 Maurine was honored by the YWCA of the Fargo-Moorhead Area with the “Women of the Year Award” in the field of religion.

By 1987 Maurine’s physical needs increased and she required more nursing care. After much prayer and encouragement Maurine returned to the Center as a resident in our Skilled Nursing Facility. She slowly accepted her new mission at the Center saying, “God treats me in a gentle manner – I’m a slow learner”. Maurine continued to offer her suffering for priests, her Bangladesh prayer apostolate, world mission, and all her Maryknoll Sisters.

Maurine continued to be involved in the concerns of the Congregation through her participation in house group meetings and her presence at forums right up until the early part of this month. Despite extreme pain, her mind remained active, her thinking was clear, and her contributions invaluable.

At the beginning of May, Maurine’s conditioned significantly declined. Fortunately, her family members arrived at this time for their annual visit. On Tuesday, May 16, at 8:05 p.m. Sister Maurine Cote died peacefully in her room on Residential Care IV while her family and her Maryknoll Sister friends were gathered with her in prayer. I believe we can all agree that Maurine can and will “cash in her ticket to a new life that will never end” and her loving God will receive her into Eternal Life with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

We extend our welcome and gratitude to Maurine’s family, friends and especially her care-givers working and visiting with her on the fourth floor. We also welcome our Maryknoll brother, Fr. Joe Towle, who will con-celebrate with Frs. Donald and Duaine in this Eucharistic Liturgy of the Resurrection for our Sister Maurine Cote.