Funeral Mass Reflection for Sister Anna Tseng RIP
Today we are all here to celebrate Sister Anna’s very final transition to her Heavenly Home. Reflecting on her life, it seemed to me that she was faced with a whole series of transitions which she made with faith, generosity and gratitude in her own very unique journey back to the Father.
In response to Jesus’ call to leave all and follow Him, Anna’s first notable and rather dramatic transition was to leave her own country, the vast area of China to travel to the tiny country of Ireland, more than half way across the world. Looked at humanly, this was a wrenching experience, but seen with the eyes of faith, it was the
journey of one who desired to give her life to God as a religious missionary and participate in Jesus’ Call to “Go teach all nations … “
Imagine how traumatic the change of language and culture must have been, in addition to the added challenge of learning to live the religious life! Although helped a lot by the Sisters she associated with, still, for Anna, it was a personal journey only she alone with God’s help could undertake.
After her years of formation in the novitiate, etc., she had more language study in Dublin. A very serious student, Anna lost no opportunity of learning new words and phrases in English, and her own language-mastery plan included an ever-present notebook to record the new words and which helped her keep better track of her
Around this time, Anna was told she was about to have another change of location. This time she was being sent to the United States – to Chicago to study in Mundelein College. Arriving in the United States for college, Anna encountered still another challenging transition and another way of doing things.
In order to get her college degree and teaching credential, Anna worked really hard. This time also offered her an opportunity to develop her creative potential in the multi-faceted area of Art, and she thrived on this.
One of her greatest hopes was to share the art pieces with her mother some day when she’d get back to China. Unfortunately, word came soon afterwards of the unexpected death of her dear mother – – we can only imagine what effect that news had on her sensitive loving heart…
Time was passing and another transition loomed ahead. After college
graduation Anna was sent to teach at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Los Angeles. With her customary courage and endurance she forged ahead. Steps were taken to help her ease into this transition, which she was able to do with her characteristic energy and deep faith. In her own way she gave herself fully to the teaching task, as well as reaching out to the parents of the children. Her spontaneity
and goodness shone through and she was loved at Guadalupe, where
she spent wonderful years.
After retiring officially from the school she was invited to work as a part-time receptionist in St. Stephen’s multilingual Church. This afforded her an opportunity to work with Chinese people. Anna developed friends easily and quickly, and once again she saw a need to give more specialized help to some Chinese emigrants. In order to do this, she taught English, and later even added piano lessons to her
schedule. Ever alert and aware, her resourcefulness was admirable.
Time was marching on and retirement came all too quickly. This presented her with an added difficulty: a change of location. Over the years Anna has been a wonderful companion on the journey of life. Her friendliness, helpfulness and cheerful humor enabled us to enjoy the ups and downs of community living. We all loved her and
saw in her a woman of deep enduring faith and resiliency.
One Californian spoke about leaving his heart in San Francisco … Anna left hers – or a large part of it in Los Angeles! We missionaries face transitions and we leave bits of our heart in many places. The California sunshine had got into her bones, and now she and Ellen, whose retirement also became a reality at this time, had to negotiate coming to terms with moving to the East Coast.
As you know, the thought of change becomes even more challenging as one advances in years. Change of scene, the varied kinds of weather, rain and snow, was a new hurdle to cross. Fourteen years ago when Anna was assigned here to Silver Creek, the change seemed overwhelming initially. But there was “new life” here, too.
In a short time, Anna grew to love everything here in Silver Creek. She enriched the community with her presence. Although she came here to retire, the opportunity to outreach to the residents was a delight for someone who always wanted to be of service. Ever interested in physical exercise, she started a program for the residents.
One of the highlights of her day became distributing the mail. It was an informal opportunity to connect with her many friends.
One very big cross for Anna was Sister Ellen’s tragic death in a car accident. Deeply saddened by this, she experienced unspeakable grief which the Lord alone could comfort. This event, too, was a major and dramatic transition in her life.
As time went on, it became evident that Anna’s health was going down, and regretfully, age and illness limited her activity. This situation was a physically insurmountable obstacle for her, and very difficult to face. Each transition that Anna hitherto experienced was a carrier of grace for her. It was evident that “new life” came about through the process of a small “mini-death” of some kind. God was
preparing her for the special and final transition.
We, Anna’s Columban Sisters, and friends must pause and try to imagine the wonderful welcome she has received and is receiving in heaven. Like St. Paul, she fought the good fight, finished the race, stayed the course and the crown of Glory awaits her. “Life for her is changed, not ended.” Yes, we will all meet again, where “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered the mind to know the great
things God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Anna’s Final Transition is to be at Home with the Father whom we imagine saying,
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the Joy of the Lord.”