Eulogy | Mary Salome Reymann
June 2, 1882-February 17, 1969
“The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Proverbs 31 – 30-31
Dear family of the deceased, Rt. Rev. and Very Rev. Fathers, Sisters, friends and parishioners of St. Matthew’s,
Our Faith teaches us that we are pilgrims on a journey to heaven. Though we come into the world unprepared for this journey, Our Maker provides all the necessary needs for this journey and He asks us to make use of them so that we could attain the exalted goal. He opens the gate of this road with the soul saving sacrament of Baptism whereby He makes us eligible to reach this goal – heaven itself. Along the road He places aids of all kinds – the commandments, which we may say, serve as the road signs directing us so that we would not stray. He places the Sacraments at various points on the road so that we could overcome the hazards we would encounter on this journey. He strengthens us with Confirmation; He feeds and nourishes us with the Eucharist; He guides, directs and encourages us when we lose our way, with the Sacrament of Penance; He anoints our weary bodies with the Sacrament of the Sick so that we could complete this journey in good spiritual health. He then directs us to pass through the portals of Death – not as a punishment – but rather as a means to attain the assigned goal – Heaven itself.
Death to the unbeliever is frightening – it ends life – it ends all. To him there is nothing beyond. To one who is baptized in Christ, to one who has journeyed with Christ through life, death is not something to be feared – but something to be desired, longed for. It is through death that we come to our eternal home, to be with God. Death is the end of the journey of life and the beginning of joy and happiness in a life without pain, suffering, separation. It is through death that we are united with Him for all eternity.
But, death does leave its scars. It strews sorrow in its path, sorrow which comes in the separation that takes place. Loved ones are now apart. The death of a mother carries a deep and very special sorrow. Everyone who passes to the great beyond leaves an empty niche – a void – but none like the mother. For it is the mother who brings life into the world: it is the mother around whom ties of family life, of love and compassion are constructed. When a mother leaves this world, there is none to take her place – home is not the same. The smile, the care, the advice, the understanding, all vanish with her departure. Yes, my friends, no one can dispute what I have said, yet in the death of this pious mother, there is a special consolation. She leaves behind a fragrance that will never fade – she leaves memories that will never die.
Leaving her native country with a solid faith, she came to this country seeking a better future. She began her life here as a maid. The work was hard but buoyed up by her faith she knew that she could overcome the hardships that came her way. She loved her God and she knew that He would provide for her. She gave herself to Charles Reymann, a widower with three small children. God blessed this union with 13 children and the household was her pride and joy. She worked hard providing for all the needs of her family with the aid of her devoted husband, abiding faith in God that all will turn out well. Many were the bleak days that faced the large family. Gifted by God with a talent few women enjoyed, she was the inspiration of her husband in his work. Encouraging him in his various ventures, she was his right hand. The blessing of God came upon them and of these blessings she wished to share with others.
When the parish of St. Matthew’s was established, it was to her home that Father Wingerter came for advice and counsel. He came away with land for the new parish. Overjoyed that a parish was established here, she opened her house to the first meetings of men and women of St. Matthew’s. These continued at her home for some time. A good organizer, she was instrumental in getting people to work for the new parish. She became the first president of the Sanctuary Guild, and a very active one at that. Through her efforts, the Guild raised needed funds for the Church. There was nothing that could stop her when she made up her mind that this or that was needed for the Church. She was a great inspiration to all. Indeed, St. Matthew’s really owes much to Mother Reymann.
Her exemplary life influenced her children to live in the love of God. She prayed that her children would love God as much as she did. Happy was the day when her son Albert said his first Mass in what is now the hall of St. Matthew’s. Happier was that day when her son James offered his first Mass here in this church. She was giving back to God what she had received from Him.
She had a great love for people. Her home became the gathering place of priests from the parish, priests from everywhere. They became her sons. When the Sisters came to teach at St. Matthew’s, she became their real friend and she did all she could to help them. Every Sister, every priest who served at St. Matthew’s always cherished the love she had for them. The parishioners were all inspired by her devotion to her Church and its people.
The fragrance of her love and devotion are now carried throughout the length and breadth of this land of ours, through her children, scattered as they are far from her home. Yes, her influence is felt even in far off South America, where, through the efforts of her priest-son, many are the beneficiaries of her generosity. The memory of her great sacrifices in behalf of all, will live on for generations to admire this Valiant Woman.
Mary Salome Reymann, your journey is completed. You have trod the road, overcome the obstacles, and in so doing you have left all of us an example of right living. Your departure from us has left a great void which will not be filled by anyone else. And yet, you would not want us to grieve because this, as you have said many times, is part of life. You followed in Our Savior’s footsteps and you were ready when he summoned you to your reward.
Mary Salome Reymann our farewell to you is sad according to human standards, but spiritually joyful, for our prayer is: May the angels lead you into paradise. May the martyrs await your coming and escort you to Jerusalem, the Holy City.
Delivered Friday, February 21, 1969, by Father Stephen Marjenin at St. Matthew’s Church, Akron, Ohio.