04 December 2011

Another archive installment: Susan Angela Boarman

Susan Angela Boarman was born in Kentucky to a Catholic family on May 20, 1801. Her parents normally lived in Maryland, but they had gone to Kentucky to settle some family affairs. After they returned to Maryland, Angela’s mother died. When Angela was 10 years old her father brought both her and her sister Mary Ann, who became Sister Benedict Joseph, to our academy to be educated.

Angela was inclined to vanity, but through the good example of some of her companions and the pious discourse of Mother Ann Catherine Rigden, to whom she was much attached, she gradually turned her heart to piety and decided she would “dedicate her heart to God in the religious state.” She had the happiness of having Leonard Neale as her Director, and when she was 15 he admitted her to the habit of our order on August 15, 1816, the feast of the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, to whom this dear sister had a tender devotion.  She showed much fervor, joined with a great simplicity, and applied herself earnestly to subdue the nature within her and to be perfect in obedience. In 1817 she made her religious profession on the feast of our Holy Mother, St. Jane de Chantal. She did this together with our dear sister Mary Bernardina McNantz, who died about a month after Angela did.

Angela had a charitable heart, and was always mindful of the needs of others. Ever compassionate toward the sick, she would often deprive herself of her own rest for their relief. She even risked her health, especially during the illness of Mother Ann Catherine Rigden, where she paid assiduous and almost uninterrupted attention to Mother’s needs. She began to waste away, and in a few months she developed “consumption” (tuberculosis). She met her illness with courage and proof of her charity, for as weak as she was, she rose every morning with the community to assist at the hour’s meditation, attend the choir, and follow the community in everything.  No one could convince her to relax in the slightest way from her accustomed duties, and she would not accept any nourishment beyond what was given to the rest of the community.  Sometimes she was found in such a state that they thought she was dead, and though she increased in virtue, she decreased so much in strength that she finally yielded and allowed them to place her in the infirmary toward the end of November, 1821. Even so, she forced herself to be present at the meetings of the community as often as she could, but by the beginning of January, 1822, she was unable to leave the infirmary at all.

She was still charitable and attentive to all around her, and before anyone could put herself to the smallest inconvenience Angela would anticipate the impulse and stop her. For example, it was terribly cold on the nights prior to her death, and Angela would ask quite pointedly if the attending sisters had provided for themselves against the cold. She would not be content, even up to the very night of her death, until she was assured that they had taken care of themselves as she desired. Three months before her 21st birthday, “[s]he breathed forth her free soul into the hands of its maker with the peace and tranquility of an angel on the 11th day of January, 1822, having enjoyed her perfect presence of mind to the very last gasp.” She held the rank of choir sister, and had served the community in the offices of Sacristan Vigilant, and Assistant at the school.

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