Reflections from a Philadelphia Pilgrim

Monday, July 16, 2007

Among the thousands of pilgrims at the canonization of Mother Marie Eugenie were Mark Supple, his wife and his daughter. A good friend of the Assumption Sisters in Philadelphia, Mark reflected on his experience of the canonization and wrote the Sisters this letter. We share it with you.


June 23, 2007


Dear Sisters,

I want to thank you all for letting me share in the canonization of your patroness and foundress, Mother Marie Eugenie. It was a great privilege you afforded Michele, Liz, and me and it meant a lot to me to be able to share this with the 6,000 or so people who were there by virtue of what Mother Marie Eugenie meant to them in their lives.

Mother Marie Eugenie had a most unexpected effect on me. I was taken not so much by the sainthood of Mother Marie Eugenie, but the reflected sainthood of the people who were there in Rome and the people touched by Mother Marie Eugenie that were still at home.

Sister Charlotte, you may remember a conversation we had outside of church where you mentioned you were never much of a teacher. In Assisi I had the opportunity to sit at lunch with a woman who knew you when you were at Miami. You had a profound effect on her. She told me how much she loved and cared for you. She told me that you were kind to her. She told me that once she and her friend were playing on the banisters in school and her friend slid down the banister, right into you. She knew her goose was cooked, but you saw the transgression for what it was and she and her friend never got in trouble.

Sister Clare, I felt so bad that you ended up tracking down Sister Alice and missed the chance to pray at the grave of your patron saint. I prayed for you that afternoon. You knew that before I did it. And I doubt I was the only one who prayed for you that afternoon.

Mentioned a number of times was the hardship that Mother Marie Eugenie faced as a teenager: a broken home, financial difficulties, a mother who passes away too early. But that pales to the loving suffering I know some of you endured. Every time someone remarked on that fact about Mother Marie Eugenie, I thought of you and prayed to your mom, dad, and grandmother.

In fact, what struck me most was not Mother Marie Eugenie and her saintliness, rather how her saintliness reflected back on all of you and the rest of us there. Sister Clare, when you did the reading at the Mass of Thanksgiving, I felt not that you were up there reading, but that all of us were up there reading. That was not just you, but the entire community that surrounds you.

I think of saints as beacons of light that we look up to. Mother Marie Eugenie was not a beacon of light for me, rather she is a mirror that reflects our saintliness back to ourselves. I was not so much celebrating Mother Marie Eugenie's sainthood as much as I was celebrating the sainthood of Sister Francis Joseph and Sister Sheila; as much as I was celebrating Sister Therese and Sister Mary Ann; as much as I was celebrating Michele's sainthood and my daughter's sainthood, and my own sainthood.

Of the pictures I took, my favorite was one of a young sister. She is talking to an older Religious of the Assumption, but as I pushed the shutter, she looked straight at me. We were celebrating the life of a woman who was closer to the time of Napoleon than she was to my time, and yet, she still inspires all these people, even this young girl, to their own sainthood. That was the experience I took back from Rome.