Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gentleness and Fearlessness

Madonna Kuebelbeck, OSB

Gentleness and wholeheartedness can be a catalyst for fearlessness. Sister Madonna Kuebelbeck, OSB, manifested just such fearless energy. The gentleness of her voice invited a collaborative listening and speaking exchange. That openness of heart allowed her to always have space for those who needed the light of her presence and creative responses in their life. As a nurse she helped establish the first intensive care unit in a large local hospital in order to protect the safety of patients with life threatening illnesses. She went on to use her mental health knowledge to give loving hope to persons with mental illness and addiction by setting up state of the art units for each of these populations. 

Later, her lack of fear allowed her to choose to go to Brazil and live for 12 years among people living in poverty and to coordinate mental health and pastoral breakthroughs in Recife. These activities put her safety at risk because Brazil’s dictatorship was not friendly towards any social change attempts which supported those living in poverty. 

In her old age she herself needed assistance due to hearing and memory loss. Even though she ultimately could no longer hear or speak her gentle smile would delight her caregivers whenever she sensed their love her. On her last day a nursing assistant was moving her into bed. To support her she put her arms around Madonna’s back and then noticed a change in her.  She said to her, “Madonna are you dying?” Madonna then leaned her head on the assistants shoulder and breathed her last. She died as gently as she lived, exuding love and surrounded by love.

[S. Madonna died on September 3, 2015. May she rest in peace.]

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

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