Sister Mary Michael died July 3, 2018, in her 82nd year of life and in the 55th year of her Profession. At her Golden Jubilee (2014) she was asked how it had been possible for her to be true to her Profession all those years. She answered that the reason was her consciousness of her own insufficiency, that everything is God’s work, and the practice of daily conversion. It all depends on God’s grace. This answer says very much about Sr. Mary Michael. She put herself in God’s hands and lived in humility and obedience. Sr. Mary Michael was a praying person, and very faithful in her intercessions for every person, for the church, and the world. Her lifelong special call was to pray for Christian unity. She was a contemplative person who sought God in the silence. Prayer was for her a practice of self-giving to God.
For all she met on her way Sr. Mary Michael was a generous person. She never tired of listening to those who asked for help and advice. Also, for us in The Nordic Catholic Church, she was a dear sister and friend, not only for the members of the church, but also for the members’ family and friends, and we will remember her with great thanks and pleasure.
With the heart’s knowledge as well as the head’s she was both intelligent and wise. In the convent she was novice master and had been teaching The Rule of St. Benedict. She also guided lay people who wanted to try a Benedictine life outside the monastery. At the same time she could give guidance in the writings of the desert fathers and other church fathers, as well as in newer literature from different church confessions. Through all her years she was a frequent writer, and she wrote innumerable letters and many published articles. Together with religious from other communities, she founded RooT – Religious of orthodox Tradition – to give moral support to those who could not accept women as priests (http://sswsh.com). She also was a member of the Council of Forward in Faith.
Three times she visited Norway. In 2005 she gave lectures at the Nordic Catholic Church’s seminar at Sandvik (north of Oslo) on the vocation of single women in the church. From there she travelled to Bergen, which she visited for a second time in 2009. Her stay among us in Bergen was a great inspiration for the Congregation as a whole and for individual members, not least for the children. Together with Mother Mary Luke she also took part in the installation of Bishop Roald Nikolai in Oslo in 2011.
During her visits in Bergen she inspired us to start a Benedictine fellowship, which now exists both in Norway and Sweden. She was vey glad to hear that the monastery of St. Severin, Kaufbeuren, joined our church in 2012, and in 2017 she followed with great interest the foundation of the Scandinavian Province in Karlskrona. In this way, before she died, she received an answer to her prayers for a contemplative life in the Nordic-Catholic Church.
The Requiem mass on July 18th was a worthy farewell to Sr. Mary Michael, CHC. Among the great number of participants was Abbot Michael, from the monastery in Kaufbeuren, and the Bishop’s stand-in, Fr. Franciskus Urban. Together with me, the three of us represented the Nordic-Catholic Church. The Gospel reading was John 6:37-40, (—) ”For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Also, the English hymns were full of hope, with beautiful and bright tenors and an excellent organist complementing the singing.
After the Requiem mass, Reverend Mother Mary Luke said that this day also was a day of joy. Sr. Mary Michael is now where she wished to be – with the Lord she loved and served so well on earth. These words also can be ours. Of course we will miss Sr. Mary Michael; and I will especially, who had her as my personal adviser for 16 years. But we are also full of joy and gratitude for all she was for us. Her good memory will remain with us.
Requiescat in Pace
Ingrid Maria Gjertsen, oblate CHC