The family, friends and admirers, along with the Seton Hill University (SHU) community, of President Emerita JoAnne Boyle gathered on Wednesday for a funeral Mass.
Many distinguished guests and priests filled the seats, including Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg and Archabbot Douglas Nowicki from St. Vincent College.
After the St. Joseph Chapel was filled, additional seating was provided in overflow rooms. Each room had a live stream of the Mass.
“JoAnne could not resist words,” said Michelle Ridge, Chair of the University Board, in a welcome to the attendees. She shared a story of how young JoAnne Woodyard would sit at the dinner table with her parents and a dictionary, like a guest of honor, talking about words. This “intellect of such radiance that it brought everyone up,” said Ridge, became part of Boyle’s legacy.
Elizabeth Boyle McDonald, daughter of President Emerita Boyle, read a passage from Proverbs 31 about the virtuous wife. Her son John W. Boyle also read from 2 Timothy, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”
“In the presence of the angels, O Lord, may we praise your name,” was sung as the responsorial psalm by Seton Hill professors Crystal Stryker and Marc Tourre.
Various members of the Boyle family participated in the Mass, by presenting gifts, acting as pall bearers and giving intercessory prayers.
“I would be foolish if I thought I could say anything that would diminish our sorrows. I do not have the words to say that. I do not have the words to soothe the ache in your hearts or anger in your fractured souls,” said Msgr. Rubino in his homily.
“Was she perfect? No. Sinless? Of course not. She was a fully human spouse, mom and friend,” said Msgr. Rubino.
Msgr Rubino recalled a speech made by Boyle: “Collect some souvenirs along the way. Not the kind that you put in a drawer or on a shelf. Today starts your unique journey and at the end you should have accumulated many such souvenirs.”
“She left a lot of delicate souvenirs for us to accumulate, store and use in our life,” said Msgr. Rubino.
Msgr Rubino did share many “souvenirs” from experiences he had with Boyle and offered a lesson that could be learned from Boyle’s life.
“Be fully faith-filled and fully human with our God and each other,” said Msgr. Rubino.
Several of Boyle’s grandchildren read the intercessory prayers followed by the youngest grandchildren delivering gifts and placing roses on the casket as “Amazing Grace” was sung.
Granddaughter of Boyle, Mari Boyle, sang “Ave Maria” following the communion. Msgr. Rubino noted that her “grandmother would have been proud.”
Music therapy professor Laurie Jones led the congregation as they sang their farewell, “Come to her aid, O saints of God, welcome her.”
“I shall miss you JoAnne and I can never thank you. Your work has been beautifully done and I know tonight that the streets of heaven will be populated with one more late angel,” said Msgr. Rubino, in tears.
“I think this occasion is also a graced one because it affords us the opportunity to celebrate her and our Catholic faith,” said Bishop Lawrence Brandt. “The crucified Lord as well as the risen Lord himself are truly present here. They are a source of comfort and courage for us because we know that suffering and death are not the last chapter for her or for us.”
The alma mater was sung at the end of the service as the bells of St. Joseph Chapel tolled. The Boyle family held a private interment ceremony following the Funeral Mass at the Sisters of Charity Cemetery at Seton Hill. The family has urged the community to contribute to Reeves Library or to the JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center in lieu of flowers.