Monday, May 12, 2014

In Memory of Sr. Luitgard

On May 2, 2014, our beloved Sr. Luitgard passed on into eternity at the age of 98.  Below are excerpts from the eulogy given at her funeral by Mother Maria Michael Newe.


Sr Luitgard would want us all to remember her today with great joy and to celebrate Christ’s victory in her.  Sr. Luitgard had a long span of life, though she always told me, “Oh, it’s going to be short!”  She was born August 12, 1915 in Germany, and given the name Elizabeth Kussman. 
She had the heart of a missionary.  She began her religious life with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, Germany.  Later, she found her way to our monastery and lived out her vows for 61 years.  Sr. Luitgard always had a heart that could say with St. Paul, “I accommodated myself to people in all kinds of different situations  so that by all possible means I might bring some to salvation.  All this I do for the sake of the Gospel that I might share its benefits with others.”  She cared immensely that souls know Christ, and she went about sharing the Gospel in any way she could.  I remember all the times she would see people and ask, “Have you had your First Communion?”; “Do you know your prayers?”; “Wait a minute I have a rosary in my room for you.”  She loved people and cared for them deeply.  Correspondence was also an integral part of her life.  It was a form of prayer for her as she expressed her love and concern for others.  We have boxes and boxes of her letters to prove it! 
Sr Luitgard as a postulant
For years, she served as a gracious and loving guest mistress.  She worked hard, cleaning, serving, welcoming, and calling people to ensure they had their yearly retreat.  Another of her greatest pleasures was gardening.  She had the greenest of green thumbs!  The greenhouse was overflowing with all kinds of containers that held plants.  She was also our seamstress and I remember going in to her to get my first habit made.  I remember how she looked when she began measuring up a person.  When she looked at you, she looked at every part of you because she wanted you to look nice in the habit.  I took that to heart.  She also loved the Divine Office and sang it with a beautiful voice.  I remember one time that she messed up in choir and she began to cry.  After the office was over I saw her go into her room and come out a short bit later beaming and happy and she said, “You know chocolate helps!”  That was a good lesson.
One of the dearest characteristics of our dear Sr. Luitgard, which encapsulated her whole life is that no one ever left Sr. Luitgard without a gift in their hands.  It was as if her dresser drawers mirrored her heart.  In them there was a secret hiding place holding something special for each person.  She never forgot anyone.  Whenever anyone would go into her room she would first direct them to the drawer that held a little gift for them.  She had a heart that ever gave.  She gave without measure.

When she died, I think she was in the most glorious garden.  I have an image of her looking all around when all of a sudden a great immense light came and she said, “Have you seen the One I’m looking for?”  Christ simply looked at her and said, “Maria Luitgard!”  And she said, “Rabboni!”  Christ didn’t tell her to let go, as He did to Magdalene, but, “Hang on, you’re mine!”