Ricci Lloyd, CSJ

We remember her in the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring

November 25, 1920 – April 4, 2016

Alleluia, give the glory and the honor to the Lord, Alleluia!

This morning our celebration of the life of Sister Mary Ricci Lloyd resounds with Easter Alleluias! The word alleluia is defined as a joyous praise in song, to boast in God, to praise the Lord. Sister Ricci’s whole life was an Alleluia. Every fiber of her being proclaimed alleluia each day from the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of her God was praised, alleluia! 

 Sister Ricci had a few requests in planning her funeral. I am sure that Ricci didn’t know at the time she made her funeral plans that God would call her home during the Easter season, but Sister Ricci requested that the music be “joyful and full of celebration of my life of service in the Lord as a Sister of St. Joseph.” It was also Ricci’s desire that her devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, which was an important part of her life, be included, as well as two of her favorite Psalms, Psalm 27 and 100. I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all her requests.

 I don’t think it would be surprising to any of us here this morning, if we were asked to give a word that describes how Sister Ricci touched our lives, that we would have over 100 different responses. No one response could ever capture the essence of the life of this humble woman who never seemed to tire of serving the Lord. If we listen carefully to the Scripture readings and the music of today’s Liturgy we will get a glimpse of Sister Ricci’s life as a Sister of St. Joseph. Perhaps you will recognize your experience of Sister Ricci when you hear words like – kind, faithful, trusting, loving, compassionate, sincere, humble, gentle, patient, peaceful, thankful, wise, grateful, inspired, blessed and happy.

 On the occasion of St. Mary’s Parish 125th Anniversary, Sister Ricci was interviewed by the PILOT. When asked about her ministry to the elderly and shut- ins of the Parish as one of her duties, Sister Ricci was quick to reply that “visiting the sick and elderly was not a duty but a joy.” She went on to say “Every day is a new day. I go where the Lord needs me and it’s just wonderful.” In our first reading from the Book of Lamentations, the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us that the favors of the Lord are not all past. God’s blessings to each of us are renewed every morning. This is how Sister Ricci saw her life. She was the recipient of God’s favors, and unconditional love every day!

 Paul’s letter to the Colossians reminds us that we are God’s chosen ones; that we should live with sincere compassion, kindness, patience, gentleness, to open ourselves to Christ’s message, to instruct in all wisdom and with gratitude in our hearts, be clothed in love. St. Paul exhorts us “Let the message of Christ dwell in you” these words found a home in  Ricci’s heart and took root and helped her to pass that message on by sowing the seeds of faith in her students. Whether her students were young kindergarten students back in the 1930s or Religious Education students in the 1990s or the elderly of St. Mary’s Parish, the message of Christ found a home in her students who to this day can tell of Sister Ricci’s impact on their lives. One of Sister Ricci’s great joys was helping to develop a special needs program at St. Mary’s where young adults could share with their friends socially and spiritually. This is just one example of Ricci’s expression of kindness, compassion and gentleness.

 In some translations of the Beatitudes, the word Blessed is translated “Happy.” As we listen to the Gospel this morning, consider substituting the word blessed with “happy”. In the Beatitudes Jesus calls each of us to live our lives in humble generosity to others, in forgiveness given joyfully, in holiness strived for and in belief lived. Lessons which Sister Ricci believed, lived and shared in word and by example. Sister Ricci lived the Beatitudes in so many ways as a Sister of St. Joseph. She was a gentle, humble woman, a merciful, loving woman.  She was a happy woman. Even at the end of her life when you spoke with her, she opened her eyes, and there was her beautiful smile. The Kingdom of God is now hers.

  In every ministry that God called Ricci to she sought God with her whole heart and found God’s love in the people she served and they found God’s love in her. I quote again from the PILOT interview of November 10, 1995, when Sister Ricci was speaking to those gathered at the 125th Anniversary celebration of St. Mary’s. Sister Ricci considered it a privilege to be part of St. Mary’s Parish. She said “The people are so loving and caring …This ministry has been such a gift … I didn’t choose it, God chose it for me. How can I ever thank God for all the wonderful gifts he has bestowed on me? I love my vocation as a Sister of St. Joseph and have been blessed to do God’s work, for his honor and glory. Every day is a beautiful. Thank you God!”

  I think Sister Ricci answered her own question. Every day was a beautiful day for Sister Ricci Lloyd because every day as a Sister of St. Joseph she gave her all for God’s honor and glory. Her trust in God provided her with the Grace she needed to respond to a variety of God’s plans over 78 years of religious life. So today we have an opportunity to honor Sister Ricci and to say thank you to God for the gift she was to Sister Catherine Ann and her family, to our Congregation, and to the people of God especially at St. Mary’s Parish.

 Sister Ricci, thank you for witnessing to us God’s unconditional love, for now you see God!

Rest in peace!

 Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ