sister nora eftink

 

May 7, 1929 – October 22, 2012

Woman of faith, community, friendship and true daughter of St. Joseph, Sister Nora Eftink was the seventh of nine children born in Portageville, a small town in southeast Missouri. Throughout her life she often told stories of growing up on the farm with her family. She helped out in whatever ways she could, including working in the cotton fields. On the farm, her knowledge and love for the art of cooking had its start. She could figure out a way to make almost any growing thing an edible delicacy.

After first meeting two Sisters of St. Joseph who were working in a nearby parish, she visited Carondelet for a weekend. From that experience she knew God had given to her a great gift: becoming a Sister of St. Joseph. She entered the novitiate on August 15, 1950, and took the name Mary Raymond to honor her sister, Mary, and her brother, Raymond.

Throughout her religious life she was always ready to serve. Cooking was her special ministry. She cooked many a meal at Fontbonne, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kansas City, at Carondelet, at the Child Care Center in Chicago and at Nazareth Living Center.

There was not a novice during her tenure at Carondelet that did not get to know her. She fed their hearts and minds as well as their bodies. S. Nora loved the novices, but she often seemed gruff at first. For many she was nicknamed the “white witch” of the kitchen because she always wore white. But once she knew you, her love, guidance and faith sharing were wonderful. She often asked the novices about their courses in theology and shared her own insights. Long walks in the evening occasioned deep sharing and, at the appropriate moment in the kitchen, a maxim or two might just be uttered aloud whether for her sake or the novices. In essence, she became novice director Number 2!

S. Marian Cowan, then novice director, recalls that just after Vatican II and wearing a new blue wool suit her mother had made, asked for some vinegar to put on her brussels sprouts. Teasingly, Nora said, “Vinegar? Vinegar?” I’ll give you some vinegar!” With this, she picked up the vinegar cruet and, thinking the stopper was on tight, turned it upside down over S. Marian’s head. When the stopper fell out and S. Marian was bathed in vinegar, S. Nora was horrified. They both screamed and then laughed heartily and hugged.

S. Nora dearly loved the boys at the Child Care Center and could tell the cycle of the moon by the amount of food they ate. Her cookies were always a big hit and she enjoyed many celebrations with them and the sisters who were there. For occasional outings, the boys would go to Murray Hill in Indiana. For those special getaways, S. Nora made the food and packed it for the trip. She often included happy surprises.

A simple pleasure for her, writing to her many family members and friends, gave her much joy. It was just a month ago that we each received a long letter from S. Nora in honor of our summer birthdays telling us about her family and wanting to know how we were doing. She loved receiving mail, so we, too, wrote to her on her birthday, at Christmas and other occasions. She also enjoyed eating out at Ponderosa, Red Lobster—anywhere where folks could enjoy good company first and foremost. She always looked forward to these outings.

Supportive of the missions, she not only sent in her donations to the mission office, but also faithfully mailed a box or two to S. Pat Murphy during her three years in Gulu. She also loved serving the sisters at Nazareth and later, as a resident, visiting with them and enjoying community life. Prayer was the highlight of her day and we firmly believe she is still praying for us. May she now enjoy the full blessings of the God she loved so dearly.

Pat Donnelly, CSJ
Pam Harding, CSJ

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