The eye of God beheld
a tiny mass of bones and flesh
soul and spirit
new, and free to choose
good or evil
light or darkness
life or death
grace or sin,
I was born November 20, 1925.
From there, in time with help
I made my way
into the world.
Waters of baptism flowed over me
And as I passed through
I was filled with power like unto God’s.
at the possibilities of me.
I am a child of God.
I was named Helen Therese
Therese being the name of my Godmother,
I was baptized in St. Peter Catholic Church
in Niles Center, now known as Skokie,
a place that remains dear to my heart
for it reminds me that there
because of her heritage my mother
was close to being a pioneer.
Not remembering the home
of my mother’s womb
my first conscious home
was with the family into which I was born.
That home began my formation with
cherished memories of Mother and Dad
and later two sisters and a brother.
I am a child of Raymoond William Haben
in the line of Frank Haben of Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
and Margaret Kunnigunda Seul Haben
in the line of John Seul of Northfield, Illinois,
Niles Center, Illinois
and later back to Northfield, Illinois.
In due time
I was blessed with a sister, Marcelline Regina (April 12, 1928)
who provided a home after Mother and Dad were no longer with us.
A brother, R. William (June 24, 1929)
who after my words at the grave of Mother:
“do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there, I did not die”
said “you really know how to make a person cry.”
and sister, Joyce Lorraine (May 10, 1936)
just by being there taught us about having a baby in the house.
I am the big sister of Marcie, Bill and Joyce.
Together we played, watched TV, fought and prayed.
From that home
First in a storefront on Lincoln Avenue for five years
and then for almost 18 years
at 8057 Niles Center Road,
called Niles Center
until its name was changed to Skokie, Illinois
in one of the United States of America
who strive under the constitution of the United States
to provide a more perfect union to establish justice
to Sunday afternoons spent in another home
at Grandma and Grandpa’s
a home I shared for a week each summer.
feeding the chickens
driving the hay wagon
enjoying fried eggs with lots of black pepper
picking vegetables from the garden
I am a grandchild of Teresa and John
I grew to know God
with sun, moon and stars
lakes, trees, and flowers
and animals of every kind
in a world built on freedom
a home where every need
was cared for
in gentleness and love.
I am a child of the universe.
With St. Francis I sing
“Most high omnipotent good God
thine are the praises and honor and blessing.”
And then to the home of the School Sisters of St. Francis
another special home in my life
the convent home where I ate radishes for breakfast,
where I learned to live the gospel
sometimes preaching with words
as Francis did, for
I am a sister of Francis.
and became known as Sister Laureen
in honor of great aunt Lorena Haben
Places in between I have called home:
places north, south, east and west
each with a new address
and only for a time –
St. Peter of St. Peter, Wisconsin
St. John the Evangelist in Beacon, New York
St. Mary of the Assumption on Staten Island
St. Wenceslaus in Milwaukee
to be a critic teacher at Alverno College
St. Mary of Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Immaculate Conception in Chicago, Illinois
And Lakefield Drive when a teacher
at Alverno Campus Elementary School
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Then at 2735 W. Greenfield Avenue in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Each of those were a part of my world for a time
where I helped children to pray,
to sing, to count, to read.
I am a teacher of children.
And it was there
I’ve come to know the real
Sister Joan Cecile Bonvouloir
in a blessed way.
Together we’ve lived
together we’ve worked
and together we’ve prayed
for years on end
and so we’ve been always
real School Sisters of St. Francis.
there are parents of my, yes, my children,
near and far
who have expressed gratitude for
taking time to talk to the children
and your words carried home
for “Sister said”
and making reading special and fun
for the little ones of Group A.
There are children
hundreds of them
not children any more
who have grown up
and taken with them a part of me.
In places near and far
there are people
who’ve lavished me
with love and care
who bear the name friend
and for whom I remember to pray –
I am gifted with friends
Then there is the most cherished home of all
the Body of Christ
the people of God
the home into which I have been
nourished and strengthened.
another nurturing womb
a home where formation continues
where I am transformed and divined
to which I owe only some responsibility –
always in process.
I belong to the Body of Christ.
As I count the years
gratitude spills over in love
for the years gone by.
Now I’m entering one of God’s many mansions
As Jesus told us.
As I put together my liturgy
all the important feelings of my life:
Francis’ joy in nature,
a dwelling place for my afterlife,
a reminder of readings I cherished from Thessalonians,
the doe longing for running water, Psalm 139,
then a dwelling place waiting for me,
with a plea for the poor, the sick, the homeless, and depressed
and Mary, mother of Jesus
remembering to act with justice, to love tenderly,
to serve one another as we walk humbly with God.
We remember how you loved us to the end.
Laureen Haben, osf
November 28, 2019