sister mary manuela souto
February 9, 1926 - April 19, 2009
Eyes open, ears attentive, spirit alert. . .
Sleeves rolled up for ministry,
Without excluding the more humble, the less pleasing, the less noticeable.
Finally, in her face the reflection of the virtue proper to our Congregation
“Continual joy of spirit.”
This is the quiet inner glow of the sister whose life in the service of Jesus Christ has been successful.
These words from Father Nepper’s description of a “Daughter of St. Joseph” aptly describe Sister Mary Manuela Souto, who would not want all of us “fussing over her.”
However, we want to give thanks, to remember, and to cherish the gift that she has been for us... Many can picture S. Mannie sitting in her rocker, probably brushing Mollie, the cat, and pondering the many things on her mind such as her friend and sister in Community, S. Jeanne Urschel as well as her family and her friends.
She met no strangers; all were the “dear neighbor.” She talked with the baggers at the store and with the maintenance people where she lived. She knew and listened to the stories of anyone who came into her path. She loved children and every time she and her sister friends went out to eat her sisters knew that part of the ritual of leaving would be allowing S. Mannie time to speak to all the kids on the way out of the restaurant.
For 63 years S. Mannie was a Sister of St. Joseph and for close to 30 years she shared community with S. Jeanne. She and S. Jeanne shared their different gifts with one another, each caring for the other in her own way, worrying about each other, celebrating with each other, listening to each other and occasionally disagreeing and getting angry, but always with a deep love and gratitude. S. Mannie always concerned herself about her sister S. Anne at Nazareth Living Center, hoping she was taking care of herself, and Anne was doing the same about her. Their love of family and community bonded them in a special way.
Both S. Mannie and S. Anne loved to go fishing. They would load up their baits and poles and set off for the water. It didn’t matter if they caught fish or not. They could sit for hours with their poles in hand, waiting and watching. Being with each other and near the water was sufficient. S. Mannie could bait a hook, clean and fillet the fish with the best of them.
Most of S. Mannie’s professional career was spent as a primary teacher in St. Louis, Mobile, Brunswick, and other places, including 22 years at St. Joseph’s in Marietta. She was an excellent teacher who expected a lot from her students and usually got it. She also accepted their uniqueness and let them know she liked them. S. Mannie loved a good story and enjoyed sharing stories of her teaching days and laughing heartily. She also was good at prodding others to share stories that made her laugh.
S. Mannie loved her family, especially her brother Jack and his wife Grace, her niece Cindy and grandniece Melanie, and her beloved nephew Alex. She rejoiced in all their accomplishments, anguished over their troubled times, listened to them and offered her advice.
When most of us think of S. Mannie we think of her love of all critters: her dog Coco, Mollie, and all the birds, ducks, geese and even Joe, the turtle which she fed faithfully. All were part of the ministry of her later years. But she would fuss at squirrels for getting into the bird feeders and then laugh at their acrobatics.
S. Mannie loved the Atlanta Falcons and felt a vital connection to the Atlanta Braves, frequently offering to manage for Bobby Cox when she didn’t approve of how he was handling the team. She watched the games on TV and talked to the players, encouraging them or fussing at them when they goofed. A woman of many talents, she could fix almost anything that was broken. Upholstering furniture and jump starting a dead car battery were not beyond her. Most of all she wowed with her cooking, especially her famous pecan and pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and her scrumptious cheesecake at Christmas. And no one made a better shrimp salad than she did.
Sister Manuela Souto continued
Despite her many medical problems S. Mannie managed to live quite independently and joyfully. She had just recovered from another hip surgery and for her last two weeks the old S. Mannie was back. Pain free and able to walk without a limp for the first time in years, she was out and about once again. On the day of her fall, which eventually proved fatal, S. Mannie was going to visit a friend with whom she wanted to share some jigsaw puzzles. While we mourn her loss in our lives, we are glad to know her fall occurred near someone she loved and knew.
We miss you, S. Mannie. May you rest for ever in God’s loving embrace.
Sisters Carol Patron and Rita Louise Huebner