We call it the “Cenacle in Heaven” and gratefully believe that our departed Sisters and Brothers of the Cenacle Family are there! One Sister in particular I would like to mention is Sister Marilyn Salamone. She died in August of 1985 after a six year fight with breast cancer.
I met Marilyn when we were both preparing to leave for Puerto Rico to teach at Colegio La Merced in an area near San Juan. Neither of us spoke Spanish. Neither of us had ever taught school before. But off we went! Marilyn was seven years older than I but her wisdom was more than the years. We weathered the anti-American sentiment in Puerto Rico at that time, lived through the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy. Marilyn went back to the States two years before I did and I did not see her again for several years.
In the 70’s we ended up in Massachusetts at two different missions. We spent our days off together. Around that time I began to take part in the Charismatic renewal. My favorite remark from Marilyn at the time was -“Remember Terry, it is not how high you jump but how straight you walk when you come down”! It was during these years that Marilyn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and was told she had about 18 months to live. She told me she wanted to live those years in service and acceptance of what might come. In fact she lived in the service of the Church and in the spirit of the Cenacle for six more years!
Six months later we left Massachusetts – I went to a new mission in Atlanta GA and she to another new mission in Dedeaux MS. I visited her several times each year and was amazed at her courage and her zeal. She got to know most of the people of her parish and all of the children. She took the CYO group on a mission trip to Mexico. And oriented three new pastors!
During the Dedeaux years Marilyn went through bouts of radiation and chemo therapy. Always somewhat vain, losing all her hair and putting on weight was a true humiliation. But her sense of humor was not put off. She said: “I told God he could have anything – but fat and bald is ridiculous!” I think that is one of the things I most admire about her – her ability to take it all in stride. Her faith, her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and her acceptance of her illness and its sufferings have given me an example that I try to keep before me. I thank God for having put her in my life, for having taught me about zeal and the Cenacle virtue of simplicity and for having always been there to challenge me to go beyond the present. I know she rests in peace!