Catholic 08

Sr. Benedicta, OSH

February 3, 1936 ~ June 11, 2022 (age 86)

Obituary

Rest in Peace

Sister Benedicta, OSH

Teacher of Gospel Love

 

Sister Benedicta, OSH (Andrea Sender), of the Order of Saint Helena (Episcopal) died on June 11, 2022.

Andrea was born in Madrid, Spain on February 3, 1936, during the time of Franco’s military dictatorship. Her parents, Ramon J Sender and Amparo Barayon, were involved in the Resistance movement. Her mother and Andrea, a nursing baby, were imprisoned for months before her mother was put to death.

In 1939, Andrea and her brother, Ramon, came to the US as refugees. They lived with Julia Davis Adams, who became their foster mother. Andrea was educated at the Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence RI and at Wellesley College. During the summers of 1964-65, she taught the “new math” to elementary school teachers throughout the country.

Andrea joined the Order of Saint Helena in 1974, taking the name Benedicta, and made her life profession in 1979. She lived in convents in Vails Gate NY, Augusta GA and North Augusta SC.

Sr. Benedicta taught first and second grade children in schools ranging from the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in New York to the Episcopal Day School in Augusta. Additional ministries included spiritual direction and leading retreats. She had a special love for the mysticism and poetry of Rumi. She also enjoyed creating rosaries and math puzzles and reading prodigiously.

While teaching at St. John the Divine, Sr. Benedicta became good friends with well-known author, Madeleine L’Engle, who preached at Sr. Benedicta’s life profession. This sermon excerpt expresses the essence of Benedicta’s life and witness:
“I think that the chief part of the religious vocation is to be healers, to make others whole, and holy. I saw this gift of making whole in Sister Benedicta years ago in her work with little children... The world desperately needs this gift; we need you, Benedicta, to help us recognize our brokenness and then to offer us healing, wholeness, holiness. To teach us through your own vision. We need your levity, your holy hilarity and joy.”

Sr. Benedicta studied haiku with Clark Strand and wrote haiku as a spiritual practice. One of her haiku won first prize in the international Kiyoshi Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest. Others were included in Strand’s 1997 book, “Seeds from a Birch Tree.” In 2020, the Order of Saint Helena published her haiku in “Pinpoints of Light,” copies of which are available from the order.

Sr. Benedicta is survived by her two brothers and their families: Ramon Sender (Judith) and their children, Jonathan (Carla), Sol (Chi Jang), and Andres; and Manolo Sender (Irene) and their children, Isobelle (Jonathan) and Thierry (Lana).

A private service for Sr. Benedicta’s burial will be held in the convent cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Order of Saint Helena, osh.org.

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Memories of Sr. Benedicta

From Sr. Rosina – I always had good experiences with Benedicta, especially when we talked on Facetime. Recently we visited about the book she read on trees – how they communicate with their kindred. They talk to their babies and teach them how to survive. They talk to other trees when diseases come about how to protect themselves. That conversation led us to talk about many things but especially about “nurturing” – how sometimes we human beings become too busy to nurture our children. We explored all this together, and we had a lot of laughter as well.

From Sr. Linda – One of my fondest memories of Benedicta took place about ten years ago. It was my turn to preach at Sunday Eucharist, and instead, I stood up and asked my sisters, “If you could teach only one thing about spirituality, what would that be?” Benedicta gave my favorite answer. She said, “I’d teach anyone, child or adult, that if they read something in the Bible or are told something about God that doesn’t sound like love, it isn’t true.”

From Sr. ES –
Soul of wit and charm
like haiku she created
Spring, Fall, and ever.

 

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