Rest in Divine Love

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Sr. Stephanie holding a young child in Clodomira.It has been a sad week for us FCJ sisters, particularly for our companions in South America, as we experienced the seemingly tragic accident, death and funeral of Sr Stephanie Earle fcJ. Our hearts go out to Stephanie’s family who travelled from England to be with her, as well as to those who were unable to travel. On November 28th, Stephanie was cycling home from a meeting in the barrio, when she was knocked from her bicycle and seriously injured. Over the next hours and days, doctors did everything they could to help Stephanie but to no avail and she died on December 1st.

The funeral Mass was celebrated in the local barrio church by Mons. Cargnello, Archbishop of Salta, with Fr. Pedro, the parish priest concelebrating. “Sr Stef” had been in Salta for less than 2 years, but in that short time had endeared herself to the community and had already begun to work with children with special needs, a huge need in Salta. Building on her experiences in Clodomira she had already established a small centre, the Centro de Atención Multiple Martin de Porres. In working with physically disabled children, Stephanie had found her ‘heart’s desire’ and become a companion of Jesus suffering in these little ones.

Stef was buried in Clodomira. Many people waited long after the ceremony to express their sympathy. The staff of the special school, Maria Magdalena, that Stef had worked so hard to develop and support, waited, along with students, parents and many, many locals. Stef had touched their lives in so many ways, and they spoke of their loss and above all, their love for her. People also came from nearby La Banda, where she had lived until late 2008. When Stef left her ministry in Clodomira in 2008, she left much of her heart behind. Now, as one local person said: “We have her with us forever.”

When we heard of Stephanie’s accident, we prayed and hoped for her restoration to health, begging Marie Madeleine our foundress to intercede for this grace. Stephanie’s presence and work seemed so timely, so urgent, so needed by children that it is hard to understand and to accept that she has died. Death, always a mystery, is particularly challenging in this situation. May Sr. Stephanie rest in the arms of Divine Love.

One Response to “Rest in Divine Love”

  1. Mary Murphy Says:

    I arrived in Bolivia just a year ago . Although we were from the same country , it was here in South America that I got to know Steph. A lasting memory for me will be her generosity of spirit , her sensitivity and her utter dedication to those in need. When she came to Bolivia from Argentina she would look for toys for the special needs children .At the end of my visit to Argentina in October Steph accompanied me to the coach station . She noticed that the strap on my bag was broken and immediately repaired it. That action sums up Steph for me:putting her gifts at the service of others in the most practical way. May her life inspire us !

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