EULOGY FOR SISTER JOSIE CUTLER (Sr Romanus Dee)
“….Welcome everybody. It is wonderful to see so many here – all our Sisters and all you lovely friends of Josie. I have been entrusted with this honour – saying Farewell to our Sister Josie – on behalf of our Community. Not many hands go up these days to deliver a Eulogy. Many of you have lived with Josie for much longer than I have – I have only lived with her for three years. It is not easy to put 72 years into a few sentences. But I will be brief.
You may know a story about an old Parish Priest who was adamant that he did not want a Eulogy at his Requiem. His reasoning was this – He used to say -While I am LYING in my Coffin I do not want somebody else LYING in the Pulpit!! So Josie I will not lie. I will be honest. When you live in a Convent with 36 sisters you won’t find any Angels so don’t come looking for them – but if there were any angels, our Josie would be a close ‘Runner up’. I believe with St, Paul that we are all saints in the making – Praise God.
Josie was born in KINGAROY, Queensland into a good Christian Catholic Home. As a young woman she came to the Kimberly, in the far north of Western Australia, where she began her Religious training and made her Profession in April 1961.
She worked in many places such as Balgo, Beagle Bay, Broome [Orphanage], Derby Leprosarium. During the week we had a Message from the Pallotine Fathers, thanking Josie for her great kindness to them. They had not forgotten Josie’s kindness. Here with us we have Sr Marcella Morris who spent a lot of time with Josie as did Sr. Maris Stella who was influential in Josie’s formation from the beginning. And Sr Philomena Hocking has travelled from Broome to join us in this farewell to dear Josie. Philomena, Josie would be pleased.
From the North West Josie came to St John’s in Rivervale, a suburb of Perth where she lived for almost 20 years. During that time she went out to teach Religion and was general classroom assistant at a school for Indigenous children with special needs at Midland, – with Sr Joan Mansfield as teacher.
During those years her sight was failing and she really had to learn a new way of living; & different ways of doing things etc., all this she did extremely well. Josie was very determined and fiercely independent. Living with visual impairment this was a great strength. If Josie did not want something done then you did not do it!! Of course it was this determination which got her through. She was an amazing woman. (For the last 25 years of her life Josie lived with blindness).
Josie came to Subiaco 14 years ago. Our Convent at Subiaco is a big building and it must have been very difficult for Josie to get around; yet she climbed several flights of stairs many times each day. With the help of her white cane she got around in such an easy and independent way. Josie lost her sight, but she certainly did not lose her hearing, – we all learned to whisper at the appropriate times!! It seemed like her acute hearing compensated for the loss of sight.
Hail, rain or shine Josie went out every day and travelled ALONE by Train to places like Perth City, to Victoria Park, and to Joondalup some 30 kilometres north of the city etc. She had many friends along the way and they were all saddened to hear of her rather sudden death. The Death Notice in the Newspaper came from groups like: TransPerth Trains, Customer Division, The ASSOCIATION for the BLIND, and from the Western Blind Golf Club. They all knew and loved this little friendly Religious Sister with the white cane!
Every year Josie got Prizes at the Perth Royal Show for her Floral Arrangements. With her gifted hands and without sight Josie also did Macramie, Pottery, Knitting, Crochet, Cushion making and Paintings – many of her paintings decorated her Room. Josie also had a gift for Creative Writing and Poetry. All of this she did while being Visually Impaired. Her Poetry really tells us how much she was in tune with Nature. Despite her visual impairment, Josie led a very colourful life. (Read one of her poems at the end of the Mass Booklet – seen here at the end of this Eulogy).
Over and above all this our Sister Josie was a deeply spiritual woman, and we miss her. We did worry about her when she was out and about in the traffic – and we didn’t need to, as Josie knew how to receive help from the people on the streets!
When I said she travelled alone – she really wasn’t alone. She shared with her family and with some of the sisters that when she travelled she used to sense, and really feel ‘an Angel on her shoulder’. Such was her sensitivity to the presence of God and his Angels. Josie’s world was not dark. God is light and where He is there is no darkness – only LIGHT.
On behalf of my Community Josie I say – Good Bye to you, our dear Sister Josie. Pray for us – ’til we meet again.
Poem composed by Sister Josie Cutler
‘Mystery of Movement’
Oh, dear Lord if I could only see
But thank you for the mystery
Of gentle movement in the air
As we go forth from Morning prayer.
It is time for me to leave again
For if I don’t I’ll miss my train
I enjoy the crispness of the air
As I set out to Wellington Fare
There is a fleck against my face
What is it Lord, in this day of Grace?
Yes, always movement in the air
Dare I catch it while it’s there?
I feel a softness on my arm
I sense that it will do no harm
I feel the presence of a tree
And know its leaves are brushing me
Crispness, gentleness and mystery
Lord, all these gifts you have given to me
I thank You for all who have helped me today
As I kneel me down to pray.