Sister Camella Gambale

We Remember Her When We Have Music in Our Hearts

GambaleCOctober 21, 1928 – January 18, 2013

This evening we come together to celebrate the life of Sister Camella Gambale. (Sister Frances Cabrini)). We also come to give thanks to God for Camella’s life among all of us. For over 65 years, Camella gave praise to her God by her life as a Sister of St. Joseph .Even as a young girl of eight years old, Camella was praising her God by sharing her gift of song in her Parish. During our Liturgy this evening we will hear a reading from the Book of Proverbs which Camella chose for her funeral Liturgy. This reading describes a valiant woman as a JOYFUL woman for whom laughter is no stranger : one who has a song to sing, a smile to give , a hand to clasp or embrace.. She is a STRONG woman whose heart and arms withstand the pressures and worries that each day enfolds. She is a PATIENT woman waiting through the storm and night for new life. She is a LOVING woman ever giving, ever caring. She is a SHARING woman who with arms outstretched gives her gifts and treasures to those both near and far.

I dare say that each one of us here this evening can remember a time in our lives when we were the recipient of Camella’s JOY, her STRENGTH, her never-ending PATIENCE, her EVER-GIVING LOVE, and her GIFTS SHARED. I would ask you to hold that memory in your heart and in the days and years ahead remember that Camella who so generously gave these gifts to all of us would want us to do the same for other

In the funeral plans that Camella prepared she requested that I read her own reflections. It is with great humility that I fulfill her request.

And I quote:

“There are some words, deep in my heart which I am eager to share with you, words of joy and gratitude; words to you my dear family and to all of you my friends.

I recall entering the Congregation in 1947 because I felt God called me, and I loved God; but what happened over the years is that I’ve grown in the deeper realization of being truly loved by God. So many times I have prayed in this Chapel; many times “praying twice” as St. Augustine would say, because I have been able to sing or lead the music in our worship together. Year after year …even day after day, we have prayed our song of praise. I have grown in the awareness of God’s love. I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE is a song, but it is also the reality of what God says to each of us. The song “*I WILL HOLD YOU IN THE PALM OF MY HAND” we sing because we know God’s faithfulness to us. BE NOT AFRAID is more than a song to me, as I have heard God’s promise through the years… as new challenges surfaced. Many times we sang I WILL RAISE YOU UP ” and I know that God was present in a promise made to a young girl in Swampscott a long time ago.

My memories of good people have had a deeper impact on me than singing. .I was nurtured by this Body of Christ in classrooms and other settings. My heart is very grateful for people who provided me with these experiences of knowing God in a very real way. It was the beginning of my formative spirituality; not from Theology texts, but from the lived experience, meeting with the human face of God in Lynn and Swampscott. There was something else, too, where I see God’s activity in my life. God was providing for me within a faith community. With my dear sister, Nellie, at the organ, since the age of 12, I began to sing for Benediction when I was eight. This was a faith community which gave me more than I knew, of course. From early years I was surrounded by a people whose faith was their rootedness, whose love of God was seen in service.

These memories help me to understand my subsequent journey to the Sisters of St. Joseph, where I have found life and love among wonderful women, marvelous companions. Through all the years of teaching, too, I have been graciously blessed by God. In my early days as a young nun atSt. Mary’s Brookline, and during my years at Arlington Catholic and Fontbonne Academy, I feel unending gratitude to the constant goodness of our God. I have always desired to be in good relationship with my students ;supporting them and encouraging them. As I once received, I have wanted to give. I feel as alive, now in my heart and in my spirit as I did on that first assignment to St. Mary’s.

For you and me LIFE is God’s gift to us, and it is wonderful and I am very grateful. Grateful, too, that God gives nurturance for the journey, in God’s own love, in a faith community, from family and friends.” End of quote

At the end of Camella’s reflection there is a song refrain which may be a consolation to all of us.

It reads :

“My song will be for you forever,

You the music in my heart,

For your love is all around me,

And your goodness always here.

My song will be for you forever,

You the music in my heart”.

Throughout Camella’s reflection we heard time and time again of her gratitude to God for her life, her family, her vocation, the Congregation and the various Faith communities that have nurtured her over these last 65 plus years.

There was a prayer that Camella had marked off in a book that she had while at Bethany which said: “I want to understand and to celebrate that your desire is for me to live fully” Tonight we can confidently say that Camella has the fullness of understanding and is celebrating the fullness of eternal life.

Given by: Sister Patricia McCarthy, CSJ