Funeral Liturgy Reflection on the Missionary Life of Sister Joanna Krupa, SSC
by Sr.Carmen Maldonado, SSC
JESUS taught that God’s love has no limit. JESUS showed that the boundaries that separate “some” from “others” are of our own making. JESUS walked across the great divides of language, culture, class, belief and circumstance – to proclaim God’s unconditional love for all people. JESUS restored people to life and to community.
As followers of JESUS, we are called to be JESUS for one another.
We are called to bear witness to God’s love for all people – by the way we live and by the choices we make. This is what Sr. Joanna believed and professed throughout her entire life.
Joanna Krupa was born in Toronto, Canada into a family of deep faith. She had happy memories of family life; stories about her Mom and Dad and brothers: Peter, Stan and Ted. What she shared reflected her deep love of family. She was very proud of her Catholic Polish roots and aware of the many sacrifices her parents made when they left Poland to begin a new life in Canada. She was Canadian through and through. She wore her red MapleLeaf and proudly sang ♫ O Canada ♫!
In 1960, feeling called to religious life as a missionary sister, Joanna came to the United States and joined our Columban Sisters in Boston. In 1963 she made her profession of vows and received the religious name: Sister Mary Trinita. (That is why there is a symbol of the Trinity in the Mass leaflet.) A few years later, when given the choice, she decided to go back to her baptismal name: Joanna.
Sr. Joanna was one of our very gifted and highly qualified sisters – but you would hardly know it, because she was humble in her manner and did not draw attention to herself… even though her missionary life was a testament to God’s EXTRAordinary action through her.
In 1973, she was assigned to our Mission in Peru. There, our Sisters lived in small dwellings in shantytowns, in the midst of wholesale poverty – where running water and electricity were rare commodities. Sr. Joanna’s loving heart immediately embraced the most under-privileged in Peruvian society: the CHILDREN with special needs: physically, mentally and emotionally handicapped – who for the most part, were kept hidden from sight, by their families. Sr. Joanna’s UN-tiring care for them, upheld their dignity as children of God and in many ways “set them free”. She knew that they were God’s little ones… and she loved them. There are countless stories told about HOW so many of those children were incapable of walking or sitting, because of their deformities – from years lived in boxes or on the floor. Then, along came Sr. Joanna, a young sister, a qualified Occupational Therapist, with a contagious smile, a big heart, and a gentle touch. Gradually, she began helping children to sit up and eventually, to even walk – by building special chairs for them, HERSELF … out of plywood – with a saw, hammer, and nails.
When I was a young sister, I remember hearing incredible stories about the great GENEROSITY of the Canadian people and Canadian airlines who would take big gigantic boxes filled with wheelchairs and supplies, to PERU – for Sr. Joanna’s children. SHE had the ability to invite and engage the help of others… and to reach out and actually GO, herself, to the poorest of the poor, to the destitute, to places where NO ONE ELSE would dare to go…in search of God’s handicapped “little ones”. Sr. Joanna’s ministry to these special children and to their parents and families ALSO and always included FAITH formation and education… because Bible Study and Faith-Sharing were at the heart of her ministry. In time, she introduced workshops where they learned handcrafts, like cross-stitch, which eventually helped the families to generate a little income, as well.
But time passed…
…and SICKNESS, which does not discriminate, arrived un-announced to Joanna, after 40 years of ministry in Peru.
In 2014 She was re-assigned to the United States and in 2015 became a member of this community, here in Silver Creek – where, from the very start, she endeared herself to residents and staff alike, with her thoughtfulness, love of people, contagious smile; and love of ALL creative activities… and here at St. Columban’s, there are plenty!
The fundamental question about OUR missionary religious life is this: WHY do WE Sisters, DO what we do? Our answer is JESUS.
JESUS is the reason that Sister Joanna worked in Peru throughout four decades… and why HER missionary life stirred so many souls.
To her brother Ted, here present, and to each of the members of the Krupa family:
On behalf of ALL my Columban Sisters, those of us here present, and those who are united with us in prayer, from across the many miles … from our Motherhouse in Ireland and our Missions in 11 countries throughout the world; and most especially our Sisters in Peru;
On their behalf and on behalf of ALL the people whose lives Joanna touched with kindness, faith, and joy — ALL the people that you will never meet and who will never be able to tell you so themselves; On behalf of so MANY:
I THANK YOU, Ted, deeply and sincerely for the “gift” your sister has been… to us and to God’s people.
FAITH guides us and enables us to remain steadfast throughout the
choices and challenges of life. FAITH enables us to journey through life knowing WHERE the journey will end.
Last Wednesday morning, as Sister Joanna breathed her last breath on earth, HER life’s greatest desire, was fulfilled.
Because, engraved in her profession ring, was the motto she chose so many, many years ago – in 4 simple words:
To Be With Jesus
Rest in peace, Joanna.
We love you and will miss you, until we are together again, in heaven.