SMC holds memorial for late student
Rebecca O'Neil | Sunday, January 19, 2014
“Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life,” echoed from Regina Chapel on Friday, when Saint Mary’s students and faculty gathered to offer condolences and prayers for former freshman Madelyn Stephenson — a first-year killed in a traffic accident 14 days earlier.
“We gathered to celebrate the memorial Mass because that is what we do as a Catholic community — all are welcome to come together in prayer to celebrate the hopes, joys and sorrows of life in the presence of God and one another,” Judith Fean, the Campus Ministry director, said. “We gathered, trusting in God’s unending love during this time of great sadness.”
Faculty and students at the College shared the burden of sadness felt with the loss of one of their own.
“I attended Madelyn’s service because I believe that once a Saint Mary’s Belle, always a Saint Mary’s Belle,” Nicole O’Toole, the junior class president said. “Although I did not know her personally, I think it’s good to be there for our fellow Belles in their time of need.”
The department of Campus Ministry prepared and planned the memorial mass on Stephenson’s behalf, Fean, said.
“The readings were selected to remember and celebrate the life and gift of Madelyn and God’s unending love for all in times when we find the mystery of death before us,” Fean said. “We hope the scriptures, prayers and music were and will continue to be words of support and hope for her family, friends and all who knew Madelyn.”
Fean, Regina Wilson, the assistant director of Campus Ministry, Fr. John Pearson, the Campus minister and Barb Ziliak, the former director of liturgy at Church of Loretto, collaborated to select each reading and song at the liturgy, Fean said.
Music is a form of prayer, Fean said. ‘Shepherd Me, O God,’ ‘Be Still, My Soul,’ ‘Be Not Afraid,’ and ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ were a few of the songs chosen for the Stephenson service.
“Music is an important ministry during tough times,” Malea Shulte, the liturgy’s cantor, said. “It can be healing.”
“We invited members of the Saint Mary’s community and the student liturgical choir to come if they were available and we had such a wonderful response from them to share their gift of music with the community,” Fean said.
Fean said that she believed those who attended the service were touched by the music in a personal way. “I think if you ask some of the people who attended, they will speak to the songs as a way of inviting them deeper into their trust and hope in God as they walk through these painful and very sad times,” Fean said.
Fean said that the Stephenson family was very appreciative of the support from the Saint Mary’s Community, though they were unable to attend the service.
“I think it is important to mourn the loss of a life that chose to come to Saint Mary’s and experience the loving community and sisterhood as I did,” O’Toole said.