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Sister Maureen: a generous soul

Homily at funeral Mass for Carmelite Sister Maureen Cochrane, Carroll High principal

Homily preached by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the funeral Mass March 9 for Sister Maureen Cochrane, of the Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who died March 7 after a brief illness. She served as principal of Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School in Miami, where the Mass was celebrated.

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “Today, as in all ages, there is no lack of generous souls ready to give up everyone and everything to embrace Christ and His Gospel, consecrating their existence to His service with communities characterized by enthusiasm, generosity and joy.”

Sister Maureen was one of these generous souls – she and her Carmelite community have given to the Lord and to this high school community a service “characterized by enthusiasm, generosity and joy.” She was like the wise virgins of the Gospel parable: her lamp was always burning brightly with the oil of her good works.

Sister Maureen Cochrane, Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

Photographer:

Sister Maureen Cochrane, Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

'She worked tirelessly to make this school the wonderful place it is. And, even as we pray for her today, I believe that she will continue to work on behalf of this school. As another Carmelite Sister, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as the “Little Flower” used to say: she wanted to spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. I think that Sister Maureen will do the same for all of you here at Coleman Carroll High School.'

Archbishop Wenski
Today, we commend this soul to the Lord confident that he will receive her into eternal life. At the same time, we ask the Lord to comfort us and all who mourn Sister Maureen. May Jesus, who wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus, strengthen us in our grief.

During her life as a nun, Sister served the Church and her sisters in religion in a number of capacities. Here in Miami she was a principal at St. Theresa School in Coral Gables for a number of years; and here at Coleman Carroll – in the short time she led this school as its principal – she worked tirelessly to make this school the wonderful place it is. And, even as we pray for her today, I believe that she will continue to work on behalf of this school. As another Carmelite Sister, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as the “Little Flower” used to say: she wanted to spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. I think that Sister Maureen will do the same for all of you here at Coleman Carroll High School.

Of course, while we remember Sister for all that she did – and we are grateful for the many kindnesses she had shown us – we remember her for who she was. And who was she? She was “sister”, a nun, a woman consecrated to the Lord by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. How privileged you are, students, to have among you as your teachers and models of Christian living these consecrated women, these sisters; how privileged we all are to have known this dedicated religious sister.

Religious life is not about the seeking of self but rather the seeking of God. The only reason for this choice in life is to seek to know his will, to build a community in which God is sought after and loved before all else. In the world, we see people who are concerned with their own autonomy, people jealous of their freedom, people fearful of losing their independence. In such a world, religious sisters must seem like – and they are – signs of contradiction. Their existence – in the world but not of the world – points to the possibility of a different way of fulfillment of one’s life, “a way where God is the goal, his Word the light, and his will the guide, where consecrated persons move along peacefully in the certainty of being sustained by the hands of a Father who welcomes and provides, where they are accompanied by other brothers and sisters, moved by the same Spirit, who wants to and knows how to satisfy the desires and longings sown by the Father in the heart of each.”

Nuns over the centuries have rightly been called Brides of Christ. This expression has its roots in the Scriptures. St. Paul in Ephesians speaks of Christ’s love for the Church as that of a groom’s for his bride. Like the terms “People of God”, “Body of Christ”, the “New Jerusalem”, other expressions found in the Bible, this phrase, Bride of Christ, helps us all as a community of believers to understand better the Mystery that is the Church of Christ. As consecrated women, Sister Maureen and these Sisters live out the implications of what friendship with Jesus means; they witness to and help illustrate the meaning of the vocation of the entire Church called to be the Bride of Christ.

Sister Maureen, in all that she did for you, wanted simply to encourage you, to challenge you to take a position regarding Jesus. For her, Jesus was not a remote figure remembered from a long past history. Rather, for Sister Maureen, Jesus was always a living person, a person with whom she could have an intimate friendship, a friendship which inspired her to follow him without compromise.

The purpose of Sister’s life was – and the purpose of our own lives should be – to know God, to love God, to serve God in this life so as to be happy with him in the next. Sister did know God, and she loved God and she served him very well. And though we are sad because she is no longer with us, we are sad for ourselves and not for her – because she is now with God.

Yes, Sister Maureen was a generous soul. And we are grateful for her enthusiasm, for her generosity, and for her joy. Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord; may her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

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