Sunday, June 1, 2008

The World has Lost a Good One

This is the obituary that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, June 1, 2008:

"A Sister of Saint Mary of Namur, died Thursday, May 29, 2008, at Our Lady of Victory Centers at the age of 58. Service: A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10a.m. Monday at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, bishop of Las Cruces, celebrant. Most Rev. Kevin, Vann, bishop of Fort Worth, and priests of the diocese will con-celebrate. Interment: Mount Olivet Cemetery. Vigil: 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Fort Worth. Memorials: Sisters of Saint Mary, 909 W. Shaw St., Fort Worth, Texas 76110. Donna Ferguson was born Aug. 4, 1949 in Dallas. She attended St. Cecilia and St. Elizabeth grade schools and graduated from Bishop Dunne High School in 1967. Following a year at St. Thomas University in Houston, Donna volunteered in the missions of the Sisters of Saint Mary in Africa. In 1968, she accompanied the sisters to war-torn Belgian Congo (Zaire) where she worked with local women and taught PE to 8th and 9th grade girls. Her experiences there inspired her to enter the Community. Sister Donna made perpetual vows in 1985. She earned a BS in Secondary Education and Social Sciences from the University of North Texas in 1974, and a Master’s Degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1985. On the strength of this degree, Sister Donna began a long career as spiritual guide an1 retreat director. After three years teaching 7th and 8th graders at John XXIII in Dallas, Sister Donna became ill. Despite a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, she channeled her energies into vocation work. In 1981, she was assigned to the Vocation Office of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and in- 1984 was made Vocation Director. Bishop Joseph P. Delaney named Sister Donna Director of Seminarians in 1989, and she. served in this office until 2006. The future priests benefited from her honesty as well as her encouragement. Sister Donna served as Member at Large for the National Board 0f Diocesan Vocation Directors from 1982-1985. Within her religious community, she served on the Provincial Council and as Provincial Treasurer arid Treasurer of Our Lady of Victory Center."

I met Donna through my older brother. She was in need of platelets for an experimental program that would attempt to treat her MS. They took my blood and centrifuged it and gave me what they didn't keep back. They cultivated what they kept and gave her injections of it to combat her MS. It worked until funding for the program went away.

Sr. Donna later became my spiritual director when I entered the Deacon Formation Program for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas. A 6 year formation program, we were all told to find a spiritual director, one that we would meet with on a once a month basis and this director would help to keep our spiritual compass pointing the right direction. She was as responsible for helping me to ordination day as those who taught my classes. She could ask questions of me that would make me dig deeper than any one else I knew. That was why I chose her. She walked every step of the way with me through formation. Once ordained I kept her as my director and my hope was to have her be my spiritual director for a very long time.

I last met with her over dinner about 4 weeks ago. This was a little bit of an oddity as we never met over a meal. She thought it was a distraction. Our meeting was not so much spiritual direction but more a quest on her part for information about what I planned to do this summer. We talked and visited and relaxed and also had the joy of being waited on by my son who works at the Japanese restaurant where we ate.

I received the call on Monday evening, Memorial Day, that she had suffered a massive brain hemorrage. They took her to the hospital she was awake, responding but was unable to speak or move her left side. I waited to go to her side as I knew the drill in the hospital, one that didn't need extra people in the way and I wanted to wait until her family was able to get there. When I got there she had already begun the downward spiral of life but the upward spiral to her eternal home. I saw her on Wednesday of that week. She slept with only an oxygen tube and breathed a very simple pattern the entire time. I held her hand, I prayed with her and for her and I talked to her, telling her to go ahead and pass on through as God was waiting for her. Her work here was done. She had been unconcious for almost 24 hours at that point.

Donna, you have been a good and faithful servant. You have helped me in so many ways. You are already missed but I know you will continue to guide me spiritually in the days ahead.

I love you Sr. Donna Ferguson and I thank you for being a wonderful part of my life. My only hope is that I can pass on to others at least half of what you have given me.

Donna don't forget, all of this is God's doing so you need to give Him some leeway!!

1 comment:

Scott S. Floyd said...

s for sharing this, Paul. She sounds like an important person in your life. Keep her alive in your memories. Talk to you soon.