Farewell, Sr. Martha

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sisters and friends gathered for Sr. Martha's funeral Mass at St. Mary Manor in Lansdale on December 21st, 2007.

Sr. Therese Margaret, former Superior of Sr. Martha, gave the eulogy which we reprint here below.

Farewell, dear Sr. Martha!


Eulogy at Funeral of Sister Martha of the Compassion, R.A.

December 21, 2007

Saint Mary Manor, Lansdale, Pa.


It is a joy to be able to say a few words about our dear Sister Martha. I speak for all of us as her religious life of more than fifty years deeply touched us. It is a joy too to say Goodbye to Martha here at St. Mary Manor where she spent the last five years of her life surrounded by so many kind and capable men and women who looked after her day by day and by her many friends here. Martha endeared herself as well to the priests and parishioners of St. Stan's, some of whom are here today. And we are always comforted by Boyd and Joan (McIlvaine) whose family through the years has prepared our Sisters for their final rest.


Many of you have read the account in "The Reporter" of Martha's rich and varied life. There was one very interesting piece not there about her parents. Her father was British and her mother was from Georgia. They met at the construction of the Panama Canal! Her father being an engineer and her mother working in the Quartermasters Office. After marrying, they then made their home in Havana where Martha grew up with her sister, Marian and three brothers, Norcott, George and Edward.

I think it is true to say that Martha was loved wherever she was. She entered religious life at age 44 as a mature professional woman. She loved her career in radio news- reporting but at one point felt a call to belong to Our Lord in a more intimate way. An adult study group in Miami became the occasion for her to meet the Assumption Sisters and it was then that she decided to follow Jesus as a religious. From being Martha Henriquez, she became Sister Martha of the Compassion. Her charity and kindness towards others was marked by that gentle compassion- practical, down-to-earth, sometimes whimsical and always joyful. Her zeal to spread faith in Jesus must have prompted her to ask to have his one word, "Sitio!" (I thirst!) engraved in her profession ring.

Whether she was teaching in Mexico, at Ravenhill, keeping the business accounts in Miami, here at St. Stan's in the parish records office, or with her colleagues in the Legion of Mary Praesidium, Martha brought an attentiveness to her work and a sweetness to those she worked with. The work was for the Lord; it touched human lives, therefore it had to be done diligently and responsibly. Her vision was wide. She was interested and knowledgeable about world events, politics and sports. She prayer hard for missionaries, for priests and for parishioners who would confide their concerns to her.


After suffering a stroke and paralysis of one arm, she came to Saint Mary Manor. This was a different life style for her. Although living away from her community, she rarely complained, accepting all the diminishments of her state humbly and quietly. She would greet anyone who passed by her with a sweet smile, a wave, an exchange of a few phrases in Spanish, and if she could, she would tell you that her ring meant she was "In His Service." She welcomed the visits of the sisters with such joy. I will never forget the way we used to end our visits. Often, it was evening, and I would whisper in her ear, "Martha, Our Lord loves you very much!" She would invariably look surprised and say, "Do you think so?" And I would say, "Martha, He's crazy about you! You're Number One in his book!" And her beautiful smile would be our goodnight.


Let us thank God for Martha's fidelity for fifty wonderful years of consecrated life! She recognized His call; she responded with love and lived it faithfully to the end. May she win the same graces for each of us!