Sister Francis Eugene Bussing
“You may for a time be plagued by all sorts of trials, so that when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold.” (1 Peter 1:7)
“For some years Sister Francis Eugene kept a book of daily jottings — accounts of daily happenings great and small, often followed by phrases like, ‘Thank you, dear Lord.’ Frequently she notes: ‘Did wash today,’ or ‘Cubs lost.’ Less frequently noted: ‘Cubs won today,’” said Sister Alexa Suelzer in her commentary for Sister Francis Eugene Bussing, who died June 2.
“Always a very private person, she did not show much of her inner self in these jottings, except to manifest that she was a grateful person, never given to judgment or unkind criticism. But at one point she wrote: ‘To be open to the Spirit is to accept explicitly who we are and who we are called to become and to direct our lives accordingly.’
“Here, I think, we have the plan for her life of faith. And we find it expanded in the reading we just heard:
“‘To accept who we are:’ Children of God brought to new birth through Jesus Christ.
“‘To strive for what we are called to become:’ To be purified like fire-tried gold.
“‘To direct our lives accordingly:’ To be joyful, at ease with both the joys and the trials of life,” continued Sister Alexa.
Born Jan. 5, 1920, in Brazil, Ind., to Sylvester and Agnes (Klein) Bussing, Marcella Magdalene Bussing was the second oldest of six children. She attended Annunciation Grade School in Brazil and graduated from Providence Juniorate, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.
Sister Alexa noted about Sister Francis Eugene, “Her siblings affirm that she was very protective of them — particularly the younger boys — and on occasion could be a real mother hen. She was perceived as quite different from her siblings, and doubtless her early assumption of responsibility partially accounts for this.”
Entering the Congregation Jan. 8, 1938, Sister Francis Eugene received the names of her brothers as her religious name. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1940 and 1946, respectively. Sister Francis Eugene earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Francis Eugene began her pedagogical ministry at St. Mel, Chicago, in 1940. She ministered one year at Immaculate Conception, Tulsa, Okla. In Indiana, she taught intermediate grades at St. Ann, Indianapolis; St. John, Vincennes; and Annunciation, Brazil. On the East Coast, she taught at St. Rose, Chelsea, Mass., and St. Mary, Rochester, N.H. Sister Francis Eugene spent 27 years in California ministering at St. Joseph, Hawthorne; St. Ambrose, Hollywood; St. Teresa of Avila, Los Angeles; and St. Therese School, Alhambra. She retired to Vincennes in 1994 and served as the coordinator for St. Rose Academy alumnae before returning to the Woods in 1997 and volunteering in the Office of Records.
“Her lighter schedule permitted time for her beloved family, for crocheting, for watching the Cubs and for prayer. Weekdays one could usually find her in ‘the big church’ — her favorite chapel — an hour before Mass,” said Sister Alexa.
“With the passage of years came declining health. As she once noted, ‘I’m not sick, just less and less well.’ But it was not until a few weeks ago that she entered health care.
“Throughout her 87 years she was, of course, beset by assorted trials and her faith was proved like gold in the fire. Today, however, is her time for praise and honor and glory. She invites us — here and now — to share her inexpressible joy,” concluded Sister Alexa.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Francis Eugene was celebrated June 6, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by a sister, Sister Richard Bussing of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, and two brothers, Frank of West Terre Haute, Ind., and Eugene of Granada Hills, Calif. She was preceded in death by a brother, Fred, and a sister, Sister Eleanor Bussing.
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