How do the Sisters of St. Francis honor one of their own on her 100th birthday? Well, if yesterday's celebration of Sister Antoine Murphy's centennial is any indication, they have birthday pie (if that's the birthday Sister's dessert of choice), put some candles on it, light said candles, and then have a couple guys from Facilities rush in with fire extinguishers and pretend they were called to put out a fire. That's just how the Sisters roll.
There was a good share of laughter mixed in with tributes to a Sister who for many years "ran a tight ship" as a nursing supervisor at Saint Marys. Sister Lauren Weinandt noted that, "Birthdays must be good for you. The more you have, the longer you live." And the old reliable, "You know you are getting older when the birthday candles cost more than the birthday cake." She also noted, in all seriousness, that her friend is a "gift from God" and "full of Irish wit," so we're going to assume Sister Antoine enjoyed the commentary as much as the rest of the crowd gathered for the blessed occasion.
Speaking of blessed, Father David Byrne from Chaplain Services got things started with a traditional Irish blessing in verse and song, the Saint Marys Sisters sang a lovely birthday song, and Bishop John Quinn and Monsignor Rick Colletti from the Winona Diocese stopped by to share their congratulations. "Pope Francis called me this morning," Bishop Quinn said. Apparently he couldn't make it but wanted to pass along his thanks to the Sister who "epitomizes the spirit of St. Francis." We weren't sure whether this was inspired fun or the gospel truth, but we don't doubt the substance of his claim.
When the party planners finally let Sister Antoine get a word in, she turned the spotlight outward, thanking everyone for being there and recognizing two other centenarians who were in attendance. Sister Antoine also mentioned that when she first came to Saint Marys 76 years ago, she was met at the door by Sister Fabian, one of the original five Sisters there at the founding of the hospital. "Sister Fabian has been my shining star since that day," she said.
There were many more stories. One that caught our attention gave us a glimpse at what Sister Antoine was like in a patient care role. Father John Evans, Chaplain Services, told us that when he came to Saint Marys as an intern, Sister Antoine was always "dressed to the hilt," even on the weekends. "I asked her if she ever wore jeans," he said. To which she replied, "I dress for the patients. They don't get the weekends off." Hard to argue with that.
In the interest of full disclosure, we should report that the pecan pie served during the celebration was delicious. You're welcome.
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In the slide show below, a few images from the event.