Posted January 27, 2011 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (January 2011)

by Paulette Curran.

The biggest event of the past month or so was the death and funeral of our sister, Diane Kunz. Unlike most of our last few deaths, this one was sudden.

On the morning of October 27th, Diane was at her usual job of answering the phone; in the afternoon, she was rushed to the local hospital in great pain. She ended up being taken to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Ottawa.

Diane had an intestinal blockage with seeping, and due to her pre-existing medical condition, which was very poor, surgery was not an option.

Diane died on October 30th, at approximately 2 a.m.

Her family had been notified as soon as she was stricken, and her three children and their spouses and four of her grandchildren came up from Indiana. They all reached her bedside before she died.

Yes, her children. Diane was almost unique in our community in that she had been married and raised a family before joining. It was the presence of Diane’s family that gave this funeral its special flavor.

First of all, there were a lot of them: the three couples and Joe (Diane’s son) and Polly Goeglein’s four children, ranging in age from fourteen to seven. Then the night before the funeral, Diane’s brother and another of her grandchildren arrived—this one a young woman.

You could see Diane in her family; like her, they are warm, expressive, and very much themselves. The love among them and for Diane was palpable. It is a love that has come through faith and suffering, and it was moving to see.

The family participated in so many aspects of the funeral. The two sons-in-law and one grandson helped build the coffin and dig the grave. Diane’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter took part in putting on and taking off the pall on the coffin along with our directors general. Diane’s daughter Cate did the reading at the wake service.

A number of family members, including women, helped carry the coffin in the procession to the grave site. Then after the burial, the men of their family and the young grandsons helped shovel the dirt back in.

Annie, one of Diane’s daughters, sings, writes songs and plays the guitar. Throughout the funeral time, she expressed her love for her mother and her grief through her beautiful music.

On memories night, the night we shared stories about Diane, the two youngest children were the time keepers. If anyone went past three minutes they rang bells and waved sombreros.

That night, a number of the family members shared stories about Diane, and it was wonderful to see her through their eyes.

Next month, barring the unexpected, we will tell you about Diane herself, about God’s work in a woman who started life as a "carnie kid." Her father owned and managed the largest carnival in America.

Meanwhile, life goes on. The renovations at St. Goupil’s, the women staff dorm-laundry-office-sewing room continue.

Of course things never go completely smoothly. For example, St. Mary’s large dryer, the one that had been doing double duty since the main house laundry had been shut down, broke. So Tom White had to take time out from his electrical work at St. Goupil’s to fix it.

It didn’t help that he had to wait for parts to be delivered—and that when they finally came, one was the wrong size!

There has been, as usual, a fair amount of coming and going. Teresa Gehred has returned from a month in Korea with Maria Park, one of our Korean staff. (Maria is staying on for another two months.)

On her way back from England to her new assignment here in Combermere, Shatzi Duffy spent some time at an Eastern Rite Carmelite monastery in France and made a pilgrimage in Egypt.

Fr. Denis Lemieux, Patrick Stewart and Teresa Reilander gave a day of recollection to the 56 principals of the Catholic Schools in the Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

A week later, they gave one to the 22 vice principals. (Well, actually Fr. Bob Wild replaced Fr. Denis who was attending his mother’s funeral.)

Ten people made a one-day trip to Montreal for the Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of St. André.

Bishop Don Bolen of the diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who was attending a bishops’ meeting in Ontario, took the occasion to visit us. He spent a year here as a working guest before going to the seminary. He stayed overnight and among other things had supper and a visit with the applicants.

Speaking of the applicants, they gave us a presentation on several of the Canadian saints and blesseds.

Jeanne Guillemette, newly returned from MH Belgium, and Jocko d’Ursel are getting ready to open a house in Rimouski, Quebec. Just seeing them gathering what they need from the various departments is exciting. They have a place to stay temporarily, but one of their first priorities on arriving will be to find themselves a house.

Catherine Doherty used to tell us that "nothing is foreign to the apostolate but sin," and the range of things people within the apostolate are involved in and do is wide. One example is sitting on the display table at St. Mary’s: a beautiful wooden hammered dulcimer.

Steve Heroux, who has learned to play this musical instrument, made it. The project has been ongoing for 14 years (during some of which time, the instrument just sat in the closet).

One never does anything alone, and on display with the instrument is a list of all the people who helped him with it, such as those with wood-working expertise. He even listed the internet!

This hammered dulcimer is no amateur job. The sound of the strings is beautiful.

Music is much a part of our life, in different ways—at liturgies most of all, but in other ways, too.

For the past few summers, for example, we’ve had square dances, and for almost all of them, one of our neighbors, Halinka Shulist, has been the caller.

Now she’s starting to teach some of us how. She gave her first lesson recently, and since callers need dancers to practice with, it was fun for all who came. Her husband Paul provided the fiddle music.

May God give you all a blessed, grace-filled New Year!


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