Memories and Commentaries about Arleen

We cannot claim any completeness to the contributions here included - they are mostly ones that came by email or otherwise to Mary and Gordon - we will try to include any further ones that you the reader think should be added. We will try to keep the index updated as we add them. The present ones are in approximately chronological order.

            Many other people, most notably her children, spoke at the Memorial Service at Saint Benedicts or expressed themselves directly in phone conversations with Arleen’s family members. Their thoughts mirror many of the threads included here. We also thank especially Denis and his BLOGS; also cousin Jamie Yeager and others for helping us in letting people know the news during the last few weeks. We must also thank Brigid for some of the beautiful photos included below, with her permission, of course.

5 October 2006: We have just added the following two pieces:
1. A poem from Jamie Yeager
2. A list of the people who have made donations to the Benedictine monastery in honor of Arleen

             HOPE - one of Arleen's favorite pictures

Arleen's 90th birthday with her 9 children
Nancy's friends - Gogo and Mary

Nancy Hynes, O.S.B. (niece of Emerson, Arleen's husband, and Sister at St. Benedict’s)

Sept.7, 2006 at the Wake Service for Arleen Hynes, O.S.B. Readings. Eccles. 3:1-11; John 1: 1-5, 9-11

“It has been a lovely life!” That was what Arleen said in 1994 in a feature article in The St. Cloud Visitor.

            This simple sentence captures the lovely rhythms of her life—lovely when she grew up in Sheldon, Iowa, with twin sister Eileen under the prayerful guidance of Josie Dunn (“Mama”) who became their surrogate mother when their biological mother died in childbirth. “There is a time to plant and a time to die.”

            It was lovely when she married Emerson Hynes, settling in Collegeville near St. John’s Abbey, having ten children and participating in the rural life movement, the Catholic family movement, and liturgical renewal. They led their children in praying psalms antiphonally. How did Emerson and Arleen manage all these activities? “Every night we all got 30 seconds of loving each,” says their daughter Mary Hynes Berry. “Any time one of us needed some special care, she would take us on her lap. There were six of us under six at the time.” “There is a time for doing and a time for loving.”

            It was lovely when they pulled up stakes to move to Washington D.C. when Emerson accepted Senator Eugene McCarthy’s offer to become his legislative assistant. “There is a time to legislate for the hungry and the thirsty.”

            It was not a lovely time when husband Emerson and son Michael died within eight months of each other. Arleen might have let her whole world crash then, and some would have said, “That’s all right. It is too much to deal with.” “There is a time to die.”

            Instead she started a new job in the library at St. Elizabeths Hospital and found herself pioneering a form of healing called bibliotherapy. (“What is that” asked a small grandchild. “Is it caring for sick books?”) Later it became poetry therapy. It was lovely and engaging work. In fact, Arleen described it as “falling in love all over again.” “There is a time to build up.”

But she found herself praying alone. She felt the draw of community. After consulting with her lifelong friend, Mother Henrita Osendorf, she followed the call to this Benedictine community where she just celebrated her 25th year of religious life last month. “There is a time to pray and a time to be.”

When St. Elizabeths celebrated its 25th year of its biblio/poetry therapy program in 1998, the staff planted a dove tree—a “poet tree”—in Arleen’s honor. She continued her work in biblio/poetry therapy by writing the classic book on the process with daughter Mary, developing a bibliography, and publishing 15 articles. She developed retreat sessions of “poetry as prayer.” She met with a bimonthly group here and in the Twin Cities.

            She would be the first to say that she was no saint. “Family life was a discipline for me,” she said. “I had to work at developing patience. And community life asks that same kind of discipline.” Maybe that’s why one of her favorite poems was Father Kilian McDonnell’s “Perfection.”

            I have had it with perfection.

            I have packed my bags.

            I’m out of here.



            As certain as rain

            will make you wet


            will do you in.

            . . .

            Even the perfect chiseled form of

            Michaelangelo’s radiant David


            The Venus de Milo

            has no arms,

            The Liberty Bell is



            Thank you, Arleen, for showing us how to be grateful for our “bonus days”—those days lived beyond a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Thank you for teaching us to “live life fully every, every minute” (Emily from Our Town). Thank you for helping us to realize that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” (The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery).

Comment from Mary:

Dear Sister Cuz/dear Relative Friend--thank you so much for your wonderful words--I know you sweated over finding just the right thing to say and --to no one's surprise--you found it. From opening with that so-Gramarley affirmation of her wonderful life to finishing with father Kilian's perfect poem on imperfection (I do love that one too--it fits perfectly with my personal philosophy of the importance of being an imperfectionist--a Hopi dropped thread principal I suppose-that I think both Arleen and Emerson embraced in their own ways). It has been wonderful to have had you so close at hand to Mom, especially in these final years--both of you working at the daunting task of coming to terms with mortality, with the need to make your bonus days count. I think of how Douglas Rimes, an Episcopalian Priest friend of Gordon's twin, said as he was facing his final days with pancreatic cancer that "One has always had to talk to people about death and life eternal and has found words that one hoped were meaningful, but it is something different when it is oneself who is dying." There was something similar in the CS Lewis movie, Surprised by Joy--and isn't it true. Thank you for your love, for your fight, for your words and for your refusal to be anyone but your feisty exuberant self. Love Mary H-B

Bernadette Weber, OSB

Homily at the Funeral of S. Arleen September 8, 2006

Readings: Prov.31:10-17, 18b-22,24-26. I Cor. 12: 31 – 13:13. Mt. 25: 31- 40.

The readings we just heard, chosen by S. Arleen’s family, certainly describe her life well. The one phrase in the reading that doesn’t fit her is, “She rises while it is still night.” It should read, “She stays up all hours of the night.” S. Arleen loved to read, visit and party into the night.

            She was truly the valiant woman: a devoted wife, a loving mother, an ever-present homemaker. That must be why the children chose the gospel passage of the corporal works of mercy. They remembered all her bread baking and cooking, her providing clothes and a home, her care for them when they were sick and her welcoming others into their home.

             Arleen and her husband, Emerson, lived the Benedictine values. Theirs was surely a family-centered home including a life of prayer, work and leisure. Arleen was humble about her human weaknesses. She told us about a time when she said she was out of sorts. She had taught the children well about the Little Way of St. Therese. Three year old Patrick said, “Mama, I thought you were following the little way.”

            Emerson wanted the family to strive for the “more excellent way” described in our second reading. The children said he read chapter 13 of Corinthians every Sunday at meal time hoping that the message would sink in. All of us who have witnessed the love in this family know it did sink in.

            For the past 25 years S. Arleen has blessed our community with her presence. She has shared her gifts and talents generously. We treasured her life among us. She was a model of community life and eager for the work of God. She loved the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours. Even when she herself was not feeling well, S. Arleen went to visit sisters in Louise Hall who were sick.

            S. Arleen was a good listener. She enjoyed sharing ideas, stories and poetry. She looked for new insights, new ways of appreciating life and new possibilities. Her attitude was always one of gratitude. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she decided against chemotherapy. She began to reflect more deeply on death and heaven. This was life-giving for Arleen. While she expressed her longing for the vision of heaven, she lived life here wholeheartedly. Her 90th birthday celebration was a milestone. The whole family came. They took her to Denis’ house. As they left they said, “We’ll have her back by 10 o’clock. It was after midnight when she returned, because she did not want to leave the party. Being with her children was energizing for her. They said she was the one who did the story telling.

            I believe Mary Oliver’s poem, “When Death Comes” expresses S. Arleen’s sentiments:

                When death comes

    like the hungry bear in autumn;

When death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me …

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;

What is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

      And therefore I look upon everything

        as a brotherhood and sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility.

And I think of each life as a flower, as common

       As a field daisy, and as singular,

And each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

Tending, as all music does, toward silence. …

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms …

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

S. Arleen, you have not just visited this world. You have made a difference in this world. Join us now from your banquet table in heaven as we celebrate the wonders of God’s love made visible

 in the Eucharist.

Comment from Mary

Dear Sister Bernadette, Thank you so much for your eloquence and the total aptness of your words. I particularly appreciated how you used a warm, loving touch of humor and the way you used that fantastic poem--Mary Oliver has always been a favorite of ours and this was such a perfect expression of the way my mother lived.  I also want to say personally to you again how much we all appreciate the way St Scholastica's has always brought totally to life the Benedictine motto--Let all guests be received as Christ.  Before you moved to your new position, you did such a good job out there--I found it very comforting to know that you were so thoughtful about balancing my mother's comfort and happiness with her health needs --in the end she was very happy with her new room and we found it perfect for our family's final waiting/waking--but I know she wanted to see herself as competent and independent as long as she could. I also will never forget your sitting up with her that night her asthma was so bad.  It was especially meaningful to me, since many was the night in my childhood when Mamma sat with me in the barkalounger in Kilfenora, looking over the fields and saying the rosary as I struggled with my asthma. So all in all, thank you for all you have done and who you are. 

Poem of Mary Willette Hughes

which she read at the “Open Mike”, 8 September 2006

Mary-Joe with Arleen and friends

                     LUCENT LIGHT

                      She waits for death

            Your Irish eyes glow with a particular

shade of blue, a color that has remained

unchanged for ninety years, for nearly

             thirty-three thousand days of sight.

            Your eyes see more wisely now, see

more clearly beyond these final days

as you are beckoned by lucent light.

            But it is hard work to labor and birth

            this death. And we ask heaven to bend,

            to hold you through long, dark nights.

            And we ask dear death, when it comes,

            to enter gently, to come like the silver

            song of a skylark: free, and with joy,

            while soaring to great, blue heights.

            We have known your life to be a psalm

            of praise. And we ask that song to carry

            your weary soul high, in effortless flight.

                                      Mary Willette Hughes

Letter sent by Perie Longo, President, National Association for Poetry Therapy,

to the NAPT Membership

Dear Friends,

Sister Arleen McCarty Hynes, one of the guiding lights in biblio/poetry therapy, passed away on Tuesday, September 5.

            I have been in communication with her daughter, Mary Hynes-Berry. She has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to St. Benedict's Monastery. I have written to Normandi Ellis, president of the NAPT Foundation, who will make a contribution to St. Benedict's in the name of NAPT and the Foundation. She will also be discussing setting up a fund in the name of Sr. Arleen with the Foundation Board.

            In case any of you want the address of St. Benedict's, it is:

1104 Chapel Lane, St. Joseph, MN 56374-0220

Cards to Mary and the family may be sent to:

Mary Hynes-Berry 5411 S. Harper Ave., Chicago, IL 60615-5505

If you have a memory of Sister Arleen that you would like to share, or a comment about her contributions to our field, we will be collecting these for an article in the November Museletter. Please submit to in the next week in order to be included.


Poem written by Geri Chavis of the English Department, St. Catherine’s, St. Paul, student and colleague of Arleen, read by Geri at the “Open mike” 8 September,

                         A Tribute to Sister Arleen Hynes

                         A vid organizer in the vanguard of poetry therapy

                         R eady always to help others

                         L over of life-long learning and

                         E nthusiast of word magic, you uphold standards of

                         E xcellence and shared knowledge garnered over time

                         N urturing and calmly wise pragmatist, you constructed

                         H avens for the lonely and opressed

                         Y ou inspired others to create,

                         N ever giving up on even the silent ones

                         E ach person you reached voiced his or her own

                         S pecial soulful song

THE book is being used far and wide....

From Peggy Osna Heller, Bibliotherapy associate

Dear friends,

As one of the last students of Arleen McCarty Hynes’ at St. Elizabeths Hospital, I will write my farewell—an encomium—with deep gratitude in my heavy heart in this beginning of a longer reflection.

            Snapshot scenes strobe through my mind’s eye as I start the process of accepting Arleen’s passing. I’ll share a few memories so you who might not have known her will get glimpses of this remarkable woman. She was a vital, indefatigable luminary determined to bring the power and beauty of interactive biblio/poetry therapy into the lives of all who had need to grow and heal.

            When I met her in 1979, Arleen had been working as the patients’ librarian at St. Elizabeths for nine years. There, in addition to her library responsibilities, she conducted reading and discussion groups for the patients. With psychiatrist Ken Gorelick, she established the Bibliotherapy Training Program at the hospital.

            I knew her as a master teacher who imparted the substantive training material that later grew into the book she wrote with her daughter, Mary Hynes-Berry. She was a gentle orator who delivered impassioned speeches I called her “Chautauquas” at each week’s class to inform us, her students, about interviewing patients, setting goals, or choosing literature. And no matter how mentally ill, she found and encouraged us to find in each participant in our groups, the healthy place that was still there and interested in life.

            Her flow of ideas was an inspiration to all of us so fortunate to be in her presence. She was a visionary, aware of the need to bring our field into public awareness. She was a true pioneer, recognizing the need for setting standards for training and credentials. In 1981, she convened a steering committee to work with her to launch a united federation of the various training programs in bibliotherapy and poetry therapy.  With this group, as her working team, she started the National Federation for Poetry Therapy and submitted all the required paperwork for its incorporation as a non-profit organization. In 1983, that dream was realized, and for years the Federation board worked on creating an examination that was necessary for its recognition as a national health-certifying agency. In 1998, the Federation began to handle the functions of training and credentials for the field of biblio/poetry therapy.

            Arleen accomplished these feats with determination, dignity, and grace, and could rally help with her projects just by telling about them with her sparkling-eyed enthusiasm. Then she would express her love in notes of appreciation for the littlest assistance. I’ve saved them all. She told stories about how she and her identical twin, Eileen, could communicate without words. I don’t think that mystic skill ever left her.

            My precious friendship and communication with Arleen continued after she entered the convent and took her vows. In 1994, Sister Arleen invited me to come to Minnesota to teach and facilitate with her at a conference on healing from clergy sexual abuse. It was thrilling to co-lead a series of sessions with a small group of survivors and therapists. Her energy was astonishing. Though I was 20 years her junior, I could barely keep up with her as she walked briskly across the campus of St. John’s Monastery, regaling me with her latest ideas for new ways to bring biblio/poetry therapy to new places.

            Arleen’s vision has inspired my 23 years of service to NAPT, the Foundation, and the Federation. My students tell me that they, too, are inspired by Arleen through me. For me, this is her great gift that I love to share.

From Johanna Hynes:

The poem's really titled "What I Learned From My Mother"

I stumbled across this today and was stopped in my tracks. It’s a perfect description of what I learned from each of you this past week. (Especially from Susy- who could've written this poem herself.)

            With apologies to the poet, What I will remember about last week is that we came. And we loved - both one another and Gramarly too. And that- when it gets down to it- we Love with a capital "L". (Okay, we may be sloppy as hell about it, but still!)

            I am profoundly changed by last week, and while I'm sure it will take years to fully realize the changes, I can say last week gave me a new sense of Hope. I am so blessed to have each of you in my life.

With Deep Love-Josie

            What I Learned From My Mother

            I learned from my mother how to love

            the living, to have plenty of vases on hand

            in case you have to rush to the hospital

            with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants

            still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars

            large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole

            grieving household, to cube home-canned pears

            and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins

            and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.

            I learned to attend viewing even if I didn't know

            the deceased, to press the moist hands

            of the living, to look in their eyes and offer

            sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.

            I learned that whatever we say means nothing,

            what anyone will remember is that we came.

            I learned to believe I had the power to ease

            awful pains materially like an angel.

            Like a doctor, I learned to create

            from another's suffering my own usefulness, and once

            you know how to do this, you can never refuse.

            To every house you enter, you must offer

            healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,

            the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

                                                                             -Julia Kasdorf

Comment from Mary:

Isn't it amazing--we did learn these things! And it is really a poem (I remember reading some time ago looking for a good poem. 

            I want to totally second everyone who single one of us who is applauding Denis and Susanna for the incredible way they gave us a home as we were losing our mother/grandmother.  It is a gift that we will never forget or cease being better for. It could not have been given more graciously.

            I talked to Sister Gen Meiers today about the contributions that have been flowing in--we agreed that we would very much like to have them designated for the Sophia fund which offers women who are leaders an opportunity to create spiritual communities--for the most part these are lay women who are doing good work for others and this project gives them a chance to create a spiritual community.I can't think of anything more in the spirit of Mom and her "Think Club" with Monica Erler and others.

             I want to thank each one of you/us for what is truly one of the most profound experiences of my life.  I am so aware of how blessed we are to be a family who for better and worse loves each other and the ripple effect from the oldest (DePaul, Teita in Merton/Mary sense; Gordon in the Emerson/Arleen  cohort) to the youngest with Isaac and Kathy Hughes' son investigating the mechanics and throwing down flowers as prime reps of how close a child is to the essence of things.
Thank each and everyone for being who you are and above all Sister Mary Mamma/gramarley for being who she is.    Lots of Love       Mary H-B

From Virginia Daley: (Kathy’s sister, Hilary’s sister-in-law)

I had a long talk with Hilary about the powerful experience of Arleen's crossing of the the 'Great Water'. I told him that I had kept a lapis spirit candle [Hilary requested blue inspired by the piece he had done for Arleen] lit since he and Kathy left and it lasted 'til the evening of the 5th. During that time a poem I had written came to mind. It was composed to accompany painting of mine for an exhibition in New York. I think it resonates with Arleen's serene acceptance of of what Hilary described as her 'birth' to a new life. So I thought I would share it with you.

I have the most wonderful memories of a truly remarkable woman!

                         Winter Rest

                         Crystalline stillness.

                         I withdraw for reflection

                         renewal, rebirth.

                         No mistaken resistance,

                         A joyous adaptation.


From Philip Berry  Gordon’s twin-brother

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and thank you for keeping us advised and how wonderful that so many of her family were able to be with her in her final days.

            She was a remarkable woman, the head of a remarkable family, and we never met without such warmth and friendship, memorable occasions always to be remembered.

[Later: “What a lovely and so well deserved tribute in the Washington Post obituary.”]

Love Phil & JC


From Jim Lodwick            neighbor in South Bend

Dear Friends, I wish you and especially Mary comfort and strength upon the death of Arleen Hynes. She certainly was an amazing woman! May Arleen now rest in God's peace and you find hope in God's love. Sincerely, Jim


From Ken Gorlick associate at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington D.C.

            (you may also see his remarks in the Washington Post obituary)

Dear Friends, A might sequoia has fallen surrounded by a family that remains and which includes us. What a blessing to have been able to call her "friend". Warm wishes to all of you.

            Thank you Mary for taking the time to call me about Arleen despite the many draws on your time. I was touched by your loving words. I am so grateful of having had the privilege of the times with this great lady your mother. I feel so lucky and so enriched. My heartfelt condolences to you, your siblings, and other members of your family. I know you celebrate her life, and I know there is also pain in the loss. Sending hugs, Ken

From Graeme Haigh, cousin of Gordon in Australia

Hello Mary and Gordon

Our sincere condolences to you all on the passing of a great lady. Our thoughts are with you.

Love Graeme & Michael

The Gannon children with their mother Mary Moran Gannon

From Kathleen Asam (her grandfather was Patrick Gannon, youngest brother of Arleen’s mother Mary Grace Gannon)

            I received a call tonight from Gordon Berry, husband of Mary Hynes Berry, daughter of Arlene McCarty Hynes, who became a Benedictine nun after the death of her husband, Emerson Hynes. She died this morning of cancer diagnosed last year. She is the last of the McCartys, daughter of Mary Grace Gannon McCarty, sister of Patt Gannon. She is the last of her generation of the McCartys. All of the information about her life, death, and Friday burial are on the web site listed. I've sent a message to Jim (with Gene & Bev) because Evelyn thought he should know, as well as to Gannon compound in FL. Please pray for her family as our mothers/father would have done. My mother thought she was a wonderful woman, and Evelyn said she was very bright, and a lot of fun. Love, Kathleen

            {I've sent this to Jim & his 2 oldest children, the oldest in cousins families here, to the Gannon compound in FL, and to all of my family, including my brother Joe, now President of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkely, who will remember the trip to Collegeville when we were children. There will be a lot of Gannons praying for you all this Friday - in place of our mothers/father who will be there to meet her. Love, Kathleen} 

Jim Gannon's note on Arleen (forwarded by Kathleen Asam) he is the youngest son of Patrick Gannon

From:   "Patrick J. Gannon" <>      Re: arleen hynes

            The last shall be first I guess. Your letter about Arllene was the first to come up on the screen so I'll start with answering it rather than try to answer all the wonderful help I recieved from all of you after Leona's death------- . After Xe she was my favorite McCarty We had a good visit with her at Xes funeral and then at Leo P s we thought we should we would get a few coins to giggle in my pocket. She was a lot like May Dugnan and Aunt Duddy. Now I know May spelled her name diferently But how you know Duddy isn't right? BESIDES THIS ISN<T spelling or grammer contest!


            Things are getting a little better around here except when I go to the bathroom at night in the dark and suddenly I realize I can turn on all the lights I I will never forget her last words to me. I came over from my hospital for a chat and even though She couldn't talk we thought , I told her that she should leave the back gate open for me She opened one eye and said " It would take a really big door!! I've got a real nice place that the kids ordered me to take even meals house work etc. that I em used to doing Wait until I tell some tales of how the kids are abuusing me. The worst was when they moved my stuff in here, they hid the booze on a bottom-shelf where I can’t get down far enough to reach!!

From: Christopher Hynes

Dear all,

            I just want to give Denis and Susanna 3 CHEERS !!!!!!!!!! for all they've done!!!!!! and by the way the spelling nor the lack of paragraphing bother me. eat, shoots, whatever. but I do want to correct on the last blog - it was Olivia and I, not Peter who got lunch for us after momma passed.

Once again 3 cheers for Denis an Susanna and all of us Hynes, I know momma is smiling with EM, Ellen, and of course God.

August 2006 photos

            Here is a communication I sent out about momma - I thought I'll share it with you.

“Olivia and I just returned from my momma's death vigil and funeral. in the end it was a true celebration with all the sister's she lived with for the last 25 years. - all 9 of us living and our Hynes choosers were there - to all of you who met her, you know what a grand and a wonderful sprite she was! a true delight. always so curious and interested in what you were doing. she was a great listener, with her sparkling eyes, sweet smile, an wonderful mine. she reached a true spiritual state the last couple years. granted she worked all her life to get there, but she really lived in the moment. at peace with her humor,

good cheer, and serenity. of course as her youngest son i could go on but here is a link to web page. read the ob. to get a brief outline of her truly amazing life. as a old family friend used to say. - you’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, woman Mrs. Hynes”.

From Michael Yeager, son of Arleen’s twin-sister Eileen

She was and is an inspiration to me. I will take that with me as I continue through my life. I am so grateful I had my last 3 final talks with her before she died. She is an example of living a full life to me. Love and Goodbye Arley

From Jane Stewart

While I'm not currently an official family member (I'm the divorced wife of Jamie, her nephew), I want to let you all know that Aunty Arly was so very special to me. She was never anything other than supportive and loving, always looking for the best in all of us. I never heared her utter an unkind word, nor did she complain about life's numerous vicissitudes. She was godmother to our son, Justin, and even though she was at that point in her life reading herself to become a member of the convent and in many ways preoccupied, her spiritual presence in our lives was tangible and continued to be so.

            My admiration for her goes beyond her loving-kindness, to her many accomplishments, from raising her extensive family to her professional innovations. God bless you, Aunty Arly, you've made the world a better place.

From Mary Bostwick, mother of Eric, oldest grand-child of Arleen

Dear, dear friend,

            I have been absent from the closing days of the life of a woman who brought so much good into my life. For without her I would not have you. I would not have Eric.

            While I regret that I could not add my voice to the throng of well wishers who gathered to see her off, I am comforted by the fact that she was surrounded by so many loving members of her clan.  And I take comfort that you had the support and strength of your family as you said your goodbye.

            I also alerted Bill Nagle, who is interested in being included if you have a NoVa gathering to honor GramArley.

            My thoughts will be with you in the coming days. Mary B.

From Kim Goodhard and Jim Dunn, friends of Mary and Gordon

Dear Mary,

            Our thoughts have been with you and your family since we learned of your mother's death. I cannot think of her without a warm feeling and a smile, and gratitude for having been within her very extended circle, through our friendship and near-family-ness.

            What an exemplary approach to life and death she had, with the grace of making the exceptional appear natural and within one's grasp.

            Our memories of her are enhanced by your poem and obituary, and the photos and other tributes that Gordon has posted. Thank you for sharing them, and her.

 With love, Kim and Jim

From Anne E. Patrick

Dear Mary,

            I am thinking of you and your family this evening, and I have just read the beautiful obit and poem you wrote about your mother. Such a fine tribute to a remarkable woman! I have felt blessed to know her in these last 15 years, and I shall miss seeing her on my occasional visits to St. Ben's. I am forwarding the message with the web sites to Maureen tonight, who is getting over some surgery for skin cancer on the scalp, which went well on Monday.

With loving sympathy, Anne

From Maureen Patrick, sister of Anne

Mary, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.  It is never easy to say that last goodbye …  Love, Maureen

From Roland Kulla, Chicago friend and artist

Dino told me about your mom's death. I was very pleased to hear that her children were with her. It's the best way to say goodbye. We were able to do that with my mom many years ago, and my dad last summer. I know you'll miss her, Roland

From David Yeager, grand-son of Eileen McCarty Yeager

Mary -

Thank you for the beautiful obituary. Your mother is an inspiration for me. I am so happy to have known her. She must have been a wonderful person because you certainly are.

With love, David .

From Sister Nancy HYNES O.S.B.

Thank you for your eloquent words, Mary. It was an honor and a privilege to claim you all as my dear, dear cousins! The Sisters at Scholastica’s are missing you!  In fact, S Alard wrote in her column for our Community News that Arleen was a special, special person. (And S. Victorine told me today how wonderful it was that you kids --?—gave the Sisters a break with your every-two-hours “extended wake.)

            I agree with you about needing to talk about death.  “Surprised By Joy” fits right in. Judy’s daughter emailed me and said she had thought to offer condolences but the tone of my message was joy! Lovely!

From Mary Fran Potts, widow of Gordon’s cousin Michael Potts (originator of “Bonus Days”)

Dear Mary,

I am so pleased I was able to meet your Mom and talk to her at the wedding. We were also able to converse on the phone after Mike’s death. What a privilege that was! She was a truly remarkable person.

            I have remembered her here at St. Benedicts and will continue to remember your family in prayer.

From Bill Hoffman, cousin of the Hynes family

Dear Mary,

I just read the very moving obituary you wrote for your mother; and the lovely poem. I’m mailing these to Uncle Mitch today. I will always treasure the conversation I had with her last January at Gene McCarthy’s memorial service. I wish I could have attended her funeral yesterday but it was not possible.

            My mother passed in 1983. I feel the loss every day. The “dark-haired girl”, as your mother remembered her, was just 63 years old. She never saw her grandchildren. When I look at that page of all your mother’s descendants, it gives me great joy.  Your cousin Bill

From Beverly Hjertelig Hilsen

Dear Mary,

I so appreciate that you spent time talking with me on the phone last week amid all that must have been happening . If I were a Catholic, I would nominate your mother for sainthood --regardless, I will carry Sister Arleen around in my heart for the rest of my life.

I read her obituary on the St. Bens site--I was glad for the picture and clear information, but missed mention of the dear aunt who raised her, and missed a long listing of her virtues!   Empathy, at the top of the list --Thank you so much.

And on a card from Norway (picture) she wrote:

Please share with your family my great affection for your mother and my sympathy for the loss you all share. When my own father died some years ago, she sent me Denise Leverton’s poem about grief personified as the dog next door who won’t go away. I’ve shared it with others since; I think of it now.

She and I met in the early 1990s. A friend was staying over at St. Ben’s Retreat Center. I came out there to meet her (my friend) and Sister Arleen had been designated (? Volunteered?)to be my host for dinner. We fell in love with each other.

A few years ago she was digging through a desk drawer looking for a picture to show me and pulled out a 6 inch cardboard shelf with 2 rows of 4 little books lined up. Each book was in fact a box labelled such as “thumbtacks”, “paper clips” etc. - an organizer for those useful things that get misplaced. I was charmed by this little structure and she gave it to me. I referred to it as my Arleen Hynes Memorial Library and reported to her that it had come to Norway and was sitting on a shelf of poetry books between P. Neruda and S. Olds.

Your mother and poetry are so linked for me. When I was first married and began living part of the year in Norway, Arleen wrote and said she was looking for poems suitable for a Norwegian man. She sent Bjørn one with images about heat from wood, appropriate for us surrounded by forest and a barn full of birch and ash chopped into pieces. And now it’s autumn.

            She is all around me. I’m lucky. Again, my sympathy, Beverly.

From Sam Meisel, President, of the Erikson Institute

Dear Mary:

            I just heard of the loss of your mother. From what Fran tells me, she was a remarkable person.

            I hope her memory will help you in this time of sadness, sincerely, Sam

From Sister Nancy HYNES O.S.B.

Dear Ones,

            You must know that today, Sept. 14, is Arleen's name day. She chose it because it is on ‘e of her favorite feast days. Someone asked me at breakfast why that was. Smart aleck that I am, I replied, "Well, anyone who has ten children must love the cross!" Ho, ho. Seriously, she loved this feast, maybe because "a tree gives us new life." Certainly, "poet tree" did.

Every day for a month we mention Arleen's name at Evening Praise, and in our dining room, her picture and a candle travels from table to table. Yesterday we had the Scholastica nuns here for an indoor "picnic." Many of them came to me to say, "That Hynes family is so loving," or "We miss them!" or "We are still riding on a spiritual high!" I speak for myself: "My prayer life has been bounced into life by Arleen." Finally, I glued Hilary's playful collage pieces on the board, so that we could transport it more easily. I will let you know what we do with it. It is lovely.

Hilary’s painting

From: Francis and Clara Bartosh

To: Mary Ann Benson; Fritz Heger;; Kenny Schoborg; Ann & Clayton Mathias; Marion j Freking; Laurene Henkels; Marilyn Fest; Donna Dewanz; Sister Marcan Freking; Hynes, Nancy

Subject: Fw: Saint of the Day (September 14, 2006) - Triumph of the Cross

            Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

            The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."

            To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

Comment:         The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority-including the heretic sect which refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.

(From Saint of the Day <> .)

The children and grandchildren in the Gathering Center at St. Benedicts, 8 September 2006
Grandchildren at the "Cuzens' Dozens", August 2006

                                                  Gordon, 18 September 2006