Sister Denise Mosier, +R.I.P.

Sister Denise Mosier, nun killed by drunk driver
Sister Denise Mosier, O.S.B.

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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  1. What a sadness for you and for all those who knew Sister Denise. Just seeing her photo lifts one’s heart. Such openness and joy. Perhaps the sisters can respond to the news coverage by reflecting the healing forgiveness that not only allows us to pray for those who have hurt us, but to find healing in those very prayers and the forgiveness it engenders.

  2. I’m very sorry to hear about your friend’s death. I’ll be keeping all of the sisters involved in the accident and their loved ones in my prayers.

    • Thank you for the prayers. The Benedictine Sisters in Bristow, Virginia are a small community; the three who were in that car represent 10% of their membership.

      I was sad to see that some Wash.Post commenters were going on and on about the fact that the driver was an illegal immigrant. The Bristow sisters are praying for him as well as their own.

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