The following is the reflection given by Sister Barbara Bir, OSU, at the funeral Mass for Sister Anne Mary Lochner, OSU on September 30, 2023.
You… You…You…We…have been told what is good and what God requires of you…of us. Did you hear it?
DO justice. LOVE goodness. WALK humbly with God.
Micah, the prophet, was telling the people what religion is. To have the actions of mind and heart, to be in relationship with God—much like Angela Merici, he uses verbs, words of action: do, love, walk.
DO justice: Anne Mary—Judy as some here knew her, used her many gifts in the cause of justice, especially for those who were marginalized. As a speech therapist, she went to the speech clinic on campus after teaching all day helping clients with their speech difficulties.
Anne Mary and Antonine ministered in Bullitt County at Saint Mary’s catechizing the people, planning liturgies, making banners, and loving those they met. I’m sure they fanned into flame their gifts of God as they worked with the people of St. Mary’s.
Thinking creatively, Anne Mary called together a group of women who would help her begin Project Women, to help, once again, the marginalized women of Louisville by helping them get an education and a job. Project Women became so successful it transitioned into Family Scholar House and is connected with the University of Louisville. It still operates today.
Using the law, she studied while on sabbatical in Berkeley, California. Anne Mary worked for Catholic Charities and became a fierce advocate for immigrants in our city.
I can imagine that you have your own stories of how Anne Mary reached out to those who needed it. Perhaps you were a recipient of her help at one time and are here now.
LOVE goodness. Personally, I prefer the New Jerusalem Bible translation of Micah here: LOVE tenderly. From what I know of Anne Mary, she not only loved tenderly—with compassion and without judgement, but she also protected those she loved fiercely. She advocated for them and made sure they were treated well. The stories you have heard bear that out.
And, like most of us, this gift needs to be tended from our earliest days. Antonine told me that when she and Anne Mary were first together at Saint Raphael Parish, Anne Mary was teaching in the school, and she was the convent treasurer. Their relationship of fifty years didn’t begin so smoothly. Antonine was sent to “straighten out the house.” Anne Mary didn’t like Antonine because she said that all Antonine did was grin at people and have prayer services. One day, as superior and treasurer, they walked to the bank together in complete silence. Then, as Antonine put it, Anne Mary found that Antonine was more than her grin. Much later, Antonine became Anne Mary’s eyes while Anne Mary was Antonine’s ears.
Aunt Judy loved her family. We heard stories about Victoria, her mother. We heard stories about her brothers, Kenny and Glenn, and their wives and children. We saw pictures. Judy was proud of her family and loved them fiercely. Anne Mary loved her Ursuline Sisters with equal compassion and fierceness. She told me once that she renewed her vows daily.
WALK humbly with your God: Anne Mary’s vision loss was difficult for her to accept. Like any of us would be, she was angry with God. Gradually, she came to a reluctant acceptance which takes a deep sense of humility.
Raymond Brown, the scripture scholar, said once, “We will understand fully who Jesus is when we see him face to face.” Certainly, in scripture, in John’s Gospel today, we listened to the Samaritan woman who met Jesus face to face. I wonder if Anne Mary was putting herself in this scripture—trying to see Jesus’ face—when she wrote a letter to the Samaritan woman. In her letter, Anne Mary says: “For a long time you have been a source of courage for me. A nameless woman about whom we know little, yet one who inspires the new and impossible. Your conversation with Jesus seems to slowly unfold…. You begin to perceive the truth in his words. You seem to hold a good balance between spiritual and practical…. You, my Samaritan woman, are courageous. You were quick to spread the good news of your meeting with Jesus, and through your testimony many came to believe in Jesus. You were a remarkable woman in bringing so many people to faith. As such, the Eastern Church has named you Photine, meaning “Enlightened One and the first of the Apostles.”
And now you, Anne Mary, Judy, have seen Jesus face to face and fully understand the One to whom you committed your life. You, too, are an Enlightened One.
And you—each one of us, do we know what is required of us?
DO justice. LOVE tenderly. WALK humbly with God.
Artwork: “Samaritan Woman” by Julio Romero de Torres, 1920 (PD-US).
This was Sister Anne Mary’s favorite depiction of “The Woman at the Well” from John 4:4–41.