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Sister Mary Lucilla remembered for open heart of gratitude

Sister Mary Lucilla remembered for open heart of gratitude - (14-08-2017)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Lucilla Scurlock, OSB, passed away on Aug. 11, 2017, at the congregation's healthcare center in Clyde, Missouri.

She was born Yvonne Teresé on March 26, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio, to James and Marie Budreau Scurlock. The family had three girls and three boys.

Her father was a steam-fitter and often on the road for work while her mom stayed home to take care of the family.

“Ours was a very close-knit family, even after the Wall Street crash in 1929,” Yvonne said. “Lack of work during the Depression must have caused times of great worry for our parents, but they never let it mar our early lives.”

All the children attended grade school at Our Lady of Good Counsel taught by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. This provided many religious role models and a variety of parish activities.

“In this environment, I gained a deep devotion to the most precious blood of Christ, which has been lasting and fruitful throughout my life,” she said.

Yvonne was involved in many extracurricular activities, including Girl Scouts, the Church Sodalities, choir, basketball and cycling. She graduated from James Ford Rhodes High School in 1942. She continued her love for the scouts, nature and crafts by volunteering as a Girl Scout leader for several years until she entered the monastery.

After school, Yvonne found work in an insurance office. She later was employed as an analytical chemist during World War II. Still later, Yvonne worked at Caterpillar Tractor Company in its parts department and attended night classes in philosophy at St. John’s College and John Carroll University in Cleveland. 

She reflected years later that her religious calling was hastened by two events. First, she discovered a vocation magazine in the vestibule of a Jesuit church near her workplace which introduced her to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

“They were a contemplative community, the habit was simple and there was no grill.”

Second, for the opening of the 1950 Holy Year, her parish sponsored a holy hour during which Benediction was celebrated exactly at midnight.

“That service appeared as a sign and influenced my decision to enter the Benedictine Sisters in the spring,” she said.

Yvonne entered on March 19, 1950, made first profession Sept. 15, 1951, and took the name Sister Mary Lucilla. She made her final profession on Nov. 9, 1956.

During her early years in community, Sister Mary Lucilla was assigned different types of work ranging from record keeping to being an electrician to work in the correspondence department and with Spirit&Life magazine.

She put her love of crafting to work for the community and made a variety of items in the craft shop, such as Fatima statues, wall plaques, holy water fonts and standing St. Benedict medals. These were made of clay, glazed and fired in a large kiln.

Sister Mary Lucilla served as subprioress of the Kansas City, Mo., and Clyde communities and as prioress in St. Louis. When first appointed subprioress, she wrote to another sister, “Please pray for me that I will always see what little authority I have as service, answering with alacrity always.”

One aspect of monastic life that Sister Mary Lucilla was passionate about was lectio, the quiet prayer of pondering the scriptures. She learned much from classes with the great scripture scholar Carroll Stuhlmueller, C. P. Daily for years, in a disciplined way, she prayed with Stuhlmueller’s notes on each psalm, never exhausting the wisdom of the Word.

Sister Mary Lucilla was a weaver par excellence and loved it. She learned the craft from a generous married couple in Arrowrock, Missouri, whom she would visit periodically to learn more intricate patterns. Her woven presider stoles have been used by priests all over and her mug rugs are perfect for that hot cup. Also, for years she was a dependable good driver and shopped for community supplies.

Sister Mary Lucilla celebrated her 60th Jubilee of Monastic Profession in 2011.  She was healthy most of her life and never was hospitalized until recently. But health problems began and she transferred in 2007 to Our Lady of Rickenbach Healthcare Center.

“I’ve always been so happy in my religious life,” she said. “It’s been a constant source of wonder to me that God ever called me, and I’m so happy he did.”

She lived simply, with an open heart full of gratitude. For many years she sent neatly typed birthday notes to each sister. Sister Mary Lucilla will be missed by her family and her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2017, in Clyde.