In Memory

Sister Beverly Hmel, IHM

March 14, 1934 – September 13, 2019

Beverly Hmel, IHM

Sister Beverly Hmel, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Philip) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, September 13, 2019 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on March 14, 1934 in Altoona, PA. She was the daughter of the late Bartholomew G. and Thelma McClain Hmel. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1951, made temporary profession of her vows on August 2, 1954, and final profession of her vows on August 2, 1957.

Sister Beverly served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Thomas Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene, ID, from 1954 to 1963; Academy of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Coeur d’Alene, ID, from 1963 to 1967; Bishop Hannan High School in Scranton, PA, from 1969 to 1975; Most Holy Rosary High School in Syracuse, NY, from 1975 to 1978; and Bishop Guilfoyle High School in Altoona, PA, from 1978 to 1985 and 2014 to 2017.

Sister served as a principal at St. Paul High School in Scranton, PA, from 1967 to 1969, and was the assistant principal at Bishop Guilfoyle High School in Altoona, PA, from 1985 to 2014.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education/mathematics from Marywood College, Scranton, PA and a Master of Science degree in education/English from the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA.

From 2017 until the time of her death, Sister Beverly served as a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She is survived by a brother, Bart, of Altoona, PA, a sister, Barbara Knott-Chisko, of Altoona, PA, and nieces and nephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Wednesday, September 18, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Tuesday, September 17, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Wednesday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.



Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Fall 2019 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Beverly Hmel, IHM, funeral on September 18, 2019

Good morning, Everyone, and welcome. As we gather in prayer to celebrate the life of our Sister Beverly, we welcome very specially her sister, Barbara, and brother, Bart; her niece, Sue, grandnieces, Meghan, Jackie, and Taylor; her sisters from Household 2C who lived with Beverly; Michael, a former student of Beverly from Bishop Guilfoyle, and his mom, Lois; and her many IHM sisters, associates and friends who join us today in this room and via livestream.

I want to welcome and thank Monsignor John Jordan, our celebrant and good friend, for being here with us this morning. We so appreciate your being here, Monsignor.

I would like to express our thanks to Sisters Mary Kay, Kate, and Jaime Mancuso, the administrators here at Our Lady of Peace, and all the sisters and pastoral and nursing staff here and from the LIFE program who took such wonderful care of Beverly.

When you give yourself to time,

yes, when you open yourself to each moment—

not avoiding either suffering or joy—

then time is no time. Then time is forever time.

Then you will be a stranger to nothing and to no one.

Then time will turn your shimmering and fleeting life into love.

You will be part of the [divine] Mystery that does not cease.

Adapted Prayers for a Thousand Years, Blessings and Expressions

of Hope for the New Millennium by Gunilla Norris

Those who knew Beverly would surely say that she was a woman whose entire life bore witness to these words of poet and author Gunilla Norris. A lifetime of unwavering fidelity to and love for her God opened the inward spaces of her heart to the mystery of living each moment to its fullest and welcoming each person as a unique and precious gift. Her own willing fiat every single day was born in the depths of her contemplative prayer relationship with her loving God and in her soul-deep appreciation of the beauty in all of creation. Her spirit of open acceptance and welcome, telegraphed by the warmth of her beautiful smile and her gentle, joyful presence, attracted others who felt richly blessed to know her. There were no strangers in her company. When challenged by the loss of her physical independence in recent years, she never dwelt on her own needs or suffering. She was courageous in finding ways to continue to witness to God’s unconditional love wherever she was. As we heard in the wonderful stories yesterday, Beverly was truly a woman full of grace and love whose witness showed us how even the greatest hardships or sufferings can in fact enrich and even transform lives. Her one “shimmering and fleeting life” was indeed a living presence of God’s love among us.

Beverly began her IHM career first as an elementary school, and later as a high school, teacher in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She also ministered in high schools in Pennsylvania and New York before returning to her beloved Altoona as a teacher and administrator at Bishop Guilfoyle High School. Her enduring legacy to that school community and to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament parish community, where she volunteered as liturgical minister, cannot encapsulated simply by stating the number of years she served there – which was a total of 39 years. Her spirit of kindness, generosity, caring, and profound respect for all was combined with a keen intelligence, an undying commitment to learning and to her students, faculty, and parents, and a genuine love of all of God’s creation. Beverly was a true seeker of knowledge and beauty in art, in nature, in literature, in others, and that search led her to that deep personal relationship with God that was her rock throughout her life.

We bring thoughts of Beverly’s goodness and gentleness to our prayer today as we also remember very specially her parents, Thelma and Bartholomew, who now welcome her home to the eternal celebration of God’s love, where there is no more sorrow or pain and where she knows the fullness of peace and joy she so richly deserves. And where she has access to an eternal supply of novels and poetry to enjoy!

We pray in a special way today for those who will miss Beverly dearly, especially Barbara and Bart, her sister and brother, her nieces, Sue, Meghan, Jackie, and Taylor, her IHM sisters and associates, especially those who lived with her in Household 2C, and her dear friends, Kathy and Sue, the community of Bishop Guilfoyle in Altoona, and all those who shared life and friendship with her.

In some way, I think that at the heart of what Beverly’s life taught us was her unquenchable desire to reflect God’s love for all within whatever circumstances she encountered. Let us not take ourselves too seriously – leave room for the surprises and gifts of others and God to fill our lives. Set aside the burdens imposed on us by circumstances, people, or even our own selves. Acknowledge the many small deaths along our way that are part of everyone’s life, not just our own, but don’t allow any of them to define or confine us. Live resurrection every day. Beverly did that; let us learn that lesson from her.

We will miss Beverly and her gentle, loving presence. Kathy and Susan found this poem by Henry Scott Holland in Beverly’s journal and I think it speaks to us today in words that help to heal our sorrow and also remind us again of the promise of resurrection and the God who wraps us in love every day:

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away into the next room.

I am I and you are you;

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,

Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.

Put no difference in your tone;

Wear no forced air or solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think, of me, pray for me.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you, for an interval,

somewhere very near, just around the corner.

All is well.

Canon Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

I now ask Barbara to place the scriptures on Beverly’s casket, for she heard the Word of God; indeed, she staked her life upon it, and received life to the full … the Word now beckons Beverly home.

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