Imagine if you were 14 years old and knew what your life's work would be. Felician Sister Mary Miriam was still Josephine Patalski at that age when she responded to God's call for a religious life. When she died Dec. 1 at the age of 96 in the Felician Sisters Convent at Coraopolis, she had spent 78 years serving God and others as a member of that religious order.

The old saying, "Smile. God loves you," is particularly appropriate for Sister Miriam. Her smile was a constant reflection of the joy her faith brought her and she left a wake of countless smiles on the faces of those whose lives she touched.

Quite a few of those smiles belong to her former students in Mount Carmel. She taught at St. Peter's School early in her career and then returned decades later to serve as an aide at Holy Spirit School.

Sister Miriam's elementary and secondary education began at St. Leocadia Grade School in her hometown of Wilmerding, and concluded with three years at Our Lady of Sacred Heart High School, Coraopolis, where she was a member of the first graduating class at the Felician school.

Her career as a Felician sister was marked by service done by, for and with love. From 1973 to 1988, she was granted a leave to take care of her mother until Mrs. Patalski's death at age 95. Even after her time as an aide at Holy Spirit, Sister Miriam provided housekeeping services for the chaplain at the Felician Sisters Convent until 2009 when she was in her early 90s.

In addition to her deep faith, Sister Miriam's life was marked by a terrific sense of humor. She made others laugh almost as much as she laughed herself.

In reflecting on such a joy-filled life as lived by Sister Miriam, the grief is muted. She will be missed by her biological and her Felician families and her former students. However, imagine the smile she will wear when reunited with her loved ones and, most importantly, be in the presence of the God whose love will enable her to smile eternally.

+++

God gifts us with smiles at the memories of loved ones.