When Sr. Francine passed away early Saturday morning, she died like she lived – with her glasses on. Always interested, always curious, always wanting to keep abreast of what was happening in the community and the world, she kept her eyes open and her glasses on.
In one hand, Sr. Francine nearly always had a coffee cup, or her rosary, or a clutch of family photographs, or a stack of papers for recycling, or – in her final months – a walking cane. In her other hand, there was certain to be something to read – typically a devotional book, a magazine, a newspaper, or a report from one of the various charities and ministries for which she faithfully prayed. Always, her glasses were on, or at the ready on the table beside her.
Sr. Francine’s interest in everything that was happening in the world was not rooted in mere curiosity. Rather, it flowed from a deep love and concern for family and neighbor, both near and far. She soaked in the daily news, and brought it all to prayer. She was truly a “prayer warrior,” constantly interceding for the needs of her family members, her monastic community, the students with whom she worked as teacher and librarian, her beloved hometown of Cullman, and the poor and needy of the world. Always, she was ready to report to the rest of us the fruits of her reading and the concerns of the day. Always, she was ready with a petition for those in need during our intercessions each evening at Vespers. Always she was full of loving concern and deep interest in the lives of everyone around her.
During her final illness, although no longer able to read, Sr. Francine insisted upon keeping her glasses on. Perhaps this was the lens through which she was accustomed to praying, the lens through which she saw and understood the needs of everyone around her, needs which she then took to God in prayer. I imagine her now in heaven, with glasses no longer necessary, but Sr. Francine wearing them nonetheless. That would be just like her, not wanting to miss a thing, wanting all the news, wanting to know just how to continue to intercede for us back here on earth. But then I imagine her taking her glasses off, and with perfect sight, absorbing the fullness of the beatific vision.
Now dwelling in the presence of God and the saints, may Sr. Francine continue to intercede for us.
Postscript: Funeral plans and a link to the obituary for Sr. Francine can be found on our Community News web page.