Sunday, April 3, 2016

This Week in Madonna House - March 28-April 3

This week in Madonna House had one most significant event. On Easter Friday, at 10:30 a.m., our beloved sister Guadalupe Zabaco breathed her last and entered eternity. We will receive her body at the St. Mary’s chapel this afternoon, have a wake service tonight, and the funeral will be tomorrow.

This death was expected; because of my strict policy of respecting the privacy of my fellow MH members on this blog and not mentioning their names or personal business, I haven’t been mentioning that Lupe has been dying for some weeks now, and caring for her has actually been a very significant part of our Holy Week and Easter life this year.

Her death was very peaceful, painless, and surrounded by prayer and love. She was 91 years old, the oldest person in the apostolate at the time of her death. Lupe was a treasure; she was a nurse originally from Spain who came to Combermere in the late 1950s by way of Nicaragua where she had been a missionary. She hardly spoke a word of English (and to be strictly honest her English never was very good) but quickly determined MH to be her vocation.

She was a fiery passionate Spaniard with a ready wit, a strong will, and a big heart. One of her claims to fame in MH is the time she was assigned to our house in Peru. There was a terrible earthquake in the mountains, and nurses were badly needed. Lupe volunteered to be parachuted into a remote area of the country inaccessible in any other way to do trauma nursing for the victims of the quake.

She had a rich and vibrant apostolic life, serving in Winslow AZ, Barbados, Edmonton, and a variety of other houses. She was loving and very loveable, and a woman of deep prayer. She loved to dance, and would get up to do salsa dancing up to just a couple years ago, when a series of strokes put her into a wheelchair. So, Lupe, we will miss you, but we trust and pray you are dancing up a storm in the kingdom of heaven with the Risen Lord and gladdening His heart as you gladdened ours.

What else went on here? Quite a bit, actually (busy week!). It was the normal post-Easter guest exodus, and the guest dorms are rather empty right now. In the case of the women guests, it is just as well, as the entire top floor of their dorm, St. Germaine’s, has been gutted and is undergoing major renovations. It is all part of a long-term project to bring all our buildings, mostly built in the 60s and 70s, up to code.

Amusingly, the first night the remaining women guests were sleeping in the basement level of their dorm, the heavy rains we have had this week finally reached a critical mass, and what building’s basement got flooded? That’s right—St. Germaine’s! They had a rude and very damp awakening and had to scramble to get their belongings off the floor. One of them joked that at least it meant that for once all the women guests were on time for Morning Prayer.

What else? Well, it was Easter, right? So we had our days off and enjoyed one another and the (mostly) spring-like weather. The sugar bush continues to produce large quantities of sap which need to be collected and boiled down into maple syrup. It’s gotten cold again this weekend, which is lousy for most things but good for the bush, and will prolong the already good season for a while yet.

Lambs! It is lambing season at the farm, and the cute little things are popping out of their mamas like popcorn. 28 have been born so far, although as I type this I realize that was yesterday’s figure and who knows how many it is now. We’ve had an unusual number of quadruplets this year (singletons, twins, and triplets are the norm for sheep), which means a larger than usual number need to be bottle-fed, their mothers not being quite up to the task of feeding their babies. So, busy times at the farm.

Friday, the day Lupe died, we had our traditional Easter Friday fish dinner. The Gospel at Mass that day is the risen Lord appearing at the sea of Galilee with grilled fish, and some kind benefactors buy us trout every year to have a truly lovely grilled fish dinner on this day. We hardly ever see fish the rest of the year, so it is a great treat, and a lovely way to connect the liturgy and life.

Oh, so much going on here, and I have hardly told you the half of it. But perhaps that is enough for now. I am on my way today to the cathedral in Pembroke for a Divine Mercy celebration at which I will be the main speaker; I ask your prayers for that event.

And be assured of our prayers for all of you and the world this week, as we go about our father’s business, or try to. May the Risen Christ be victorious everywhere, and in all human hearts above all.

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