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Mary Paulita SCHNELLER

List of deceased Sisters

Date of death 30/03/2009

Sr. M. Paulita, born Julia Schneller, on March 31, 1917, in New York, N.Y. (USA), died peacefully March 30th, 2009, at the Elizabeth Seton Residence in Wellesley, MA. Two brothers died before her and her Sister, Beatrice, CSJ, is in a nursing home in New York.

Among her papers, I found this one entitled: “SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE RESURRECTION”. She lived by these words in her last days of peaceful surrender:

“I cannot remember whether it was the poet W.H. Auden, or T.S. Elliot who said that we are born into life crying but we leave it in a whimper. The first part may be true enough but if we, as St. Augustine tells us, are Easter people, our last breath will not be a whimper, but a joyous ALLELUIA because the Lord is always faithful to His promises and He told us to be not afraid.

“Finally, the Song of Songs (8:6) describes love as being “as strong as death”, but the resurrection proves God’s love to be stronger than death. We are so safe and secure in God’s love because there is no limit to it. Our very sins are drowned in His love.”

Sr. M. Paulita was at home with the poets and other literary figures, etc. She received her Degree in Literature in Victoria University, New Zealand followed by a Masters in Education, in 1969. She was then assigned as a Professor of English Literature at Corpus Christi College, Suva, Fiji. Many emails from our Sisters attested to her talents as an interesting and engaging teacher. My purpose for mentioning her literary skills is broader than teacher. From her earliest days, her secretary ministry is recorded, including: Vocations work, Mission Department, Secretary to Medical Superintendent at the Central Leprosy Hospital, Makogai, Fiji, Secretary of the Provincial Council, Moderator of the Alofa Malia Club in MA, Secretary of the US Catholic Mission Association, Secretary at several Chapters and Author, recording the Oral History of 3 of our Sisters.

About her Mission in the Central Leprosy Hospital, Makogai, she writes:

“I, myself, worked there for about 15 years. When I arrived at Makogai (not to be confused with ‘Molokai” in Hawaii) in 1951, we had over 750 patients who came from all over the Southwest Pacific. They represented at least thirteen different racial groups. People were very sick then and most of them had running sores. The 18 Marist Missionary Sisters who were the Nursing Staff would spend several hours each morning bandaging. …. When the Sulphone drugs were introduced the same year I arrived, they revolutionized the treatment of the disease… Swellings went down, sores started to heal and strength and well-being returned. As the people got better, they were eventually allowed to return to their islands and/or homes. “

In 1995 Sr. M. Paulita went to live at Rocky Creek Village in Tampa FL. About this time of her life she wrote: “I am facing reality and although my hopes and dreams and zeal are still there, my fund of energy has mostly gone down the drain which necessitates a change from DOING to BEING….. I am deeply grateful to be able to do odds and ends (of course, this included the Village newsletter) and hopefully witness to the mercy and love of the Lord, Mary’s way, in whatever ways I can. If there is a decrease of activity, perhaps more time for prayer and a closer relationship with the Lord, compensates.”

In 2006, Sister was assigned to Marillac Residence, assisted living, where she continued her mission of BEING.

We will miss you, dear Paulita. You were always your own person, with an eye for those in need. We thank you for your 62 years as SMSM and your love for the Congregation. May you pray for us from heaven and obtain for us some of your ability to “age with grace” and to “die with peace”.

One in Mary,

Sr. Judith Sheridan, smsm