“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17).” These were the words that were proclaimed in the second reading during the funeral Mass for Sr. Elaine Theresa Burrows, SIW.
The chapel in the motherhouse for the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in Parma Heights was filled with family, friends, religious and clergy including staff members and parishioners from St. Thomas More.
The Gospel, which Sister chose for her funeral, was John 12:24-28 that focuses on a grain of wheat, a seed that must die in order to bring new life to the world. “Sister has left a seed in everyone’s heart,” said Fr. Bill. It is through our lives that we must help that seed grow.
Sister passed away on the morning of Monday, Nov. 6 at the age of 77 of which 61 of those years were spent as a sister of the Incarnate Word. She entered the convent on the Feast of the Assumption (Aug 15) in 1955. She spent more than 2 decades as an elementary school teacher and has devoted much of her life since the mid-80s as a pastoral minister at St. Thomas More. Among her responsibilities, Sister spent most of her time ministering to the sick, home-bound and those in nursing homes. She would often be found praying her breviary or strolling through the parking lot with a rosary between her fingers. During times of adoration, it was Sister Elaine Theresa that would spent hours with the Lord. It was the love of the Lord that gave Sister the strength to minister to His people.
One of seven children, Sister loved her family. As father mentioned in his homily, she loved being an aunt and great-aunt. Her obituary referred to her as “Auntie E.T.” to 13 great nieces and nephews. Often Sister would ask the people of the parish to pray for her family.
“I am going to miss her,” Fr. Bill remarked. “I know my dog Clare is going to miss her.” He recounted how often Sister would spend time playing with Clare in the office as well as probably sneaking Clare an extra treat or two. On Sunday, during what was her final visit to the parish, Sister made sure to make her way to the rectory to see her four-legged friend.
To recount everything she did or meant to St. Thomas More would take quite a bit of time. Perhaps it is best summed up by Fr. Bill’s words in his bulletin article for Nov 12, “Sr. Elaine loved St. Thomas More and we loved her. May she forever rest in the tender arms of Jesus her Savior.”