Monday, June 16, 2014

The Blessed Mother, a bear and a peace sign

One of our truly wonderful, wonderful, "characters" passed away this weekend--age 95: Sister Veronica Byer. Her obituary is on our website. Growing up in central Pennsylvania, one of 12 children, she had minimal formal education, but native intelligence and instincts. We were her third Benedictine community, as she started out on the west coast, spent time with the Benedictines in the Midwest and finally ended up with us for many years--close to her remaining brothers and sisters and their children.

Perhaps one of the most endearing remembrances of Veronica will be of her art, aka Grandma Moses, folk art. Her drawings of children and nature scenes appeared on greeting cards to other sisters, signs and memos. She went full-size with large cutout wood pieces that she placed at the entrance to the paths to the hermitages. Many a first-time visitor was "greeted" with a black bear leaning up against a tree! The bear was on the right, next to it was a Stop the War/peace sign; her large grotto-type Blessed Mother was on the left. Somehow they all fit together to Veronica.

When we had a Christmas store her handmade cloth dolls sold out on the first day and orders for others came in droves. She could have run a cottage industry for doll requests alone.

She was a character, but a loving and delightful one. She was holy, prayerful and kind. Her last years with Alzheimer's disease found her humorous and gracious throughout. She will be greatly, greatly missed.