The nightly news often includes a tragic story of a car accident, often involving alcohol. They are always sad. But the one I heard today hit home: the victim was someone I know and love.
I met Sister Denise Mosier a few years ago when she was one of the leaders at a Benedictine spirituality program. Hardly ever have I encountered anyone with such joie de vivre. This photo chosen by her Benedictine community in Bristow, Virginia captures her spirit perfectly. Her joy was deep and real – not the kind of shallow laughter-seeking that St. Benedict railed against. Instead, she could see the humor in all the foibles of life, her own included.
Sister Denise was a wise counselor as well. I met her at a turbulent time in my vocation to religious life. She took the time to share elements of her vocation story – with more trials than I had imagined – and assured me that even the trials produced spiritual fruit in the end.
“Denise was very special,” said Sister Glenna Smith, spokesperson for the Bristow Benedictines. “She had a genuine love for all people. . . . Very personable, very outgoing. Almost always happy and upbeat. She was one of the most generous and forgiving people I’ve ever known.” (Washington Post)
Of the many memories I have from that retreat of several weeks, her presentation on celibacy in monastic life remains with me. She shared much from our monastic tradition, and her own lived experience. But – in true Sister Denise style – she ended by giving us a song to remember what she taught us. It was Johnny Cash‘s “I Walk the Line” – and she had us dancing to it.
Sister Denise was killed when a young man, driving drunk at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, spun out of control; his car crashed head-on into the car in which Sister Denise was riding. Two other Benedictines, Sister Connie Ruth Lupton and Sister Charlotte Lange, remain in critical condition in Virginia hospitals. Sisters are keeping a round-the-clock prayer vigil with them.
As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right
Because you’re mine,
I walk the line
(Johnny Cash -I Walk the Line)
Farewell, Sister Denise: I will miss you.
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