On Thursday, May 12, Sister Mary George Boklage left this earthly plane at the age of 87 to join our dearest Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, her parents and brother, and our dear Fr. Jim Willig. From all connected to “Heart to Heart,” we are going to miss Sister so very much, but we also celebrate Sister’s joyous new life in heaven.
This is a perfect time to reflect on the gifts and blessings that Sister Mary George gave to so many. She dedicated her life to the Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy for almost 70 years. As a Sister of Mercy, she served the medical world for over 54 years. She started as a nurse, and then grew in leadership. Sister became the driving force in the formation of Clermont Mercy Hospital, Batavia, Ohio. From 1975 to 1995, Sister Mary George served as the CEO of the hospital. As busy as Sister was, she also acted as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Mercy Healthcare Partners of Western Ohio.
When Sister retired from Mercy Hospital, she was not ready to just sit back in an easy chair. She still had the desire and energy to continue working for God. She struggled during the first year after leaving Mercy Hospital searching for God’s next assignment for her. She served as the Sacristan and Chair of the Worship Commission for Holy Trinity Church, Batavia, Ohio, but this was still not enough for Sister.
Due to the influence of Sister Mary Albert, her dearest friend, Sister Mary George reluctantly agreed to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to France in 1996 led by two young priests, Fr. Jim Willig and Fr. Michael Sparough. While on this pilgrimage, Sister Mary George turned her life over to God once again, accepting His Will and Way. Following this spiritual renewal, she later heard the Lord’s call to begin coordinating pilgrimages for these two priests. Many of us remember the long hours on the bus rides, singing songs, eating snacks, and lifting each other up in prayer and with witness. It was due to Sister’s acts of coordination and persistence that many entered into a deeper, more personal relationship with God.
This was just one part of Sister’s new life. Sister Mary George was so moved by Fr. Jim’s illness and death, she dedicated the remainder of her life to his ministry, “Heart to Heart.” From its onset, Sister worked in the storefront located at that time in Reading, Ohio. She drove to Reading twice a week from Batavia to do whatever was needed to be done. Because of Sister’s dedication, “Heart to Heart” continued onward and upward.
When Sister Mary George turned 85, she was ordered to move back to McAuley Convent. Sister had to face another huge life change. She felt resistant to this command at first, but Sister was always obedient to God and to the authority of the Sisters of Mercy. She accepted this change and rejoined her sisters at the convent. Thanks to Sister Judy, the Mother Superior, the convent invited “Heart to Heart” to move into their lower level. In this way, Sister Mary George could still be with her beloved “Heart to Heart.”
As Sister’s health began to fail, she had to let go of her work at “Heart to Heart.” This was the final sacrifice that Sister had to endure, but rather than complain she moved into deeper prayer. This was Sister Mary George’s last commitment to God and the Sisters of Mercy, and to her precious “Heart to Heart.” She spent these last months of her life in prayer and suffering, offering it up for all who were in need of God’s grace.
We can help Sister’s legacy continue by following her example. We are all called to serve God through our prayer and obedience. We can also “spread the good news,” supporting the mission of “Heart to Heart!” Finally, we can now call on Sister to help us whenever we feel we are struggling on our journey. Sister understands the difficulties and pitfalls. We are all pilgrims, and there is no better guide on life’s pilgrimage than Sister Mary George Boklage.