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Sister Mary John Meyer passes on Good Friday

Sister Mary John Meyer passes on Good Friday - (13-04-2020)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary John Meyer, OSB, died on April 10, 2020, in Clyde, Missouri.

She was born Laurene Marie on Nov.13, 1931, in Baileyville, Kansas, to Henry and Clara Haug Meyer. As a young girl growing up on the family farm, Laurene Marie felt blessed by the presence of her large family. One of 11 children, she recalled those years during the Depression when times were tough.

“There were many nights when supper was bread and milk,” she recalled. “I remember mother and father having to cut down the trees so the sheep would have leaves to eat and not starve. But there was a lot of love, and I think it helped prepare me for life in the convent.”

Laurene Marie always knew she was being called to religious life but didn’t know where. Then she visited the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde when she was only 14 years old.

“It was on the Feast of the Assumption, and the Sisters were praying the feast day office in Latin,” she said. “I thought I was in heaven. I knew this was it.”

Laurene returned home, only to pray each night that God would lead her back to the Benedictine Sisters.

“My mom really needed me at home, but she let me go,” she said.

In 1948 at the age of 16, she packed up and left to enter. Laurene made her first monastic profession on Sept. 17, 1949, and was given the name Sister Mary John. She made her final monastic profession on Nov. 6, 1954.

During her 70 years as a Benedictine Sister, Sister Mary John lived in the communities in Clyde, Missouri; Mundelein, Illinois; Tucson, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; and St. Louis. Her earliest years and the last 40 years were at the Clyde monastery. Early on, Sister Mary John spent her time working the Clyde monastery farm where skills learned at home were helpful to the farm efforts. She also served the Sisters in the infirmary kitchen. She was then assigned to the monastery kitchen and was a driver for many years. For over 30 years she shopped in St. Joseph, Missouri; she knew and listened to all the people who ran or worked in those businesses.

Sister Mary John was skilled in the sewing room, making the Sisters’ clothing and doing mending of all types. During these years, one of her greatest joys was when the monastery hosted Monastic Experiences, inviting college students and young women interested in learning more about religious life to spend a week with them. During their time at the monastery, they pray with the Sisters and help with various works, including sewing. 

“I just love young people,” Sister Mary John said. “I may look like an older woman, but my heart is young.”

Sister Mary John was a kind person with a sense of humor. For countless years until shortly before her death, she sent a birthday card greeting to most Sisters without fail. Fidelity takes many forms.

After her Diamond Jubilee in 2009, Sister Mary John remarked, “This life has strengthened me. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to God for calling me to this life and keeping me all these years.”

She also commented that a favorite work had been in the kitchen, “For there one truly becomes Eucharist for one’s Sisters.”

As her mobility decreased and arthritis crippled some joints, Sister Mary John moved to Our Lady of Rickenbach Healthcare Center in 2013. She took advantage of every opportunity to stay active and useful. Besides joining the community for prayer times and many card-playing recreations, she became a careful and agile driver of a motorized scooter. Sister Mary John didn’t give up sewing when she went to OLR; she just had to do it in a much smaller space. She had responsibility for some of the community laundry. She eagerly involved a few Sisters who suffered from dementia and could contribute to the community by folding the clean clothes and towels.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sisters living in the main house could not visit Sister Mary John in the final weeks of her life as her health declined. On Holy Thursday, however, as the Sisters at the monastery finished their agape meal, each one was able to speak to Sister Mary John on FaceTime. She was still conscious though no longer speaking. With other Sisters and staff present, Sister Mary John died quietly on April 10 (Good Friday) shortly before the 3 p.m. liturgy commemorating the Passion of the Lord.

She is survived by her brothers, Clarence and Kenneth; sisters, Elaine, Marilyn, Dolores, Kathy and Janice; their spouses; many nieces, nephews and cousins; and her monastic family. By special arrangement with the Price Funeral Home, Sister May John’s family and Northwest Missouri area friends will have visitation there on Tuesday, April 14. Her funeral liturgy and burial at our Mount Calvary Cemetery are scheduled for Wednesday, April 15.

After the pandemic quarantine is lifted, a memorial service at the monastery that includes her family will be planned.