SISTER ELIZABETH MICHAEL BOYLE, OP

 

SISTER ELIZABETH MICHAEL BOYLE, OP

Sister Elizabeth Michael Boyle, OP, inherited a love of words, of all things beautiful, and a brilliant sense of humor from her Irish forebears. Whether writing satires for our summer school days (Sursum Corda), creating plays for the little ones she taught, masterminding spectaculars for older students, gathering the Tower Poets, mesmerizing university students, composing prayers for the community—whatever endeavor she engaged in, Michael’s poetry went straight to our hearts. At congregational assemblies and chapters, Michael’s clear thinking and precise speech often unraveled tangled discussions. Her doctoral work on the effect of silence in drama might have seemed contradictory coming from a woman whose words moved so many. But the power of silence became clear to her in her life as a contemplative. Truly a Woman of the Word, Incarnate, scriptural, literary, spoken, or published, Michael’s wordsmithing reached more people than she ever knew.

From her earliest childhood Michael learned contemplative prayer and love of beauty in word, music, art, theater and ballet from her parents. The only girl in a family of boys, she might have become “a princess.” But nothing was further from the truth. She became a Dominican sister, one among many in those days, and she shouldered the work of the common life as anyone else. No privileges!

Her classes were populated by children and adults who engaged with all the literary giants of the English language, classic and contemporary. Magnetized by this dynamo, they soon discovered the contemplation at the root of her genius. Some became lifelong friends of hers.

Michael enjoyed traveling. While visiting her family in Michigan and California, she delighted the younger Boyles and edified the older Boyles, regaling all with stories and “Aunt Betsy” conversation. Over the years, as the younger ones grew, she maintained deep interest in their careers and in their diverse life experiences. Other traveling took her to Europe with her beloved “Aunt” Margaret and on the “Lands of Dominic” study tour with Dominicans from many other congregations and provinces.

This woman of the Word testified and proclaimed it faithfully so that others might have communion with the Trinity. As Jesus prayed for His friends before he died, Michael, realizing friends were love gifts from God, prayed that they might see God’s glory as she did and be filled with God’s love.

She prayed with Solomon for the gift of wisdom and, in answer, she overflowed with this gift that brought with it all her other magnificent gifts: words written and spoken, knowledge of the universe and its elements. How she delighted in the seasons, the sun and stars, animals and plants. Their Designer taught her well!

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