In 1962 Sister Mary Mark Orr, who led Saint Mary College Library from 1936 to 1972, wrote this poetic drama in honor of a sister in community who made first vows about six months before her. The other “characters” are Sisters Jane Frances Bauman, Rose Ellen O’Neil, and Crescentia Sack, all of whom entered the community within months of each other in 1924 and 1925.
In Honor of Sister Sebastian [Mary Sebastian DeLapp]
S. Jane Frances: 35 years ago or is it 38
We sat together in the dear old Novitiate
S. Mary Mark: I have here my book of memories old
I’d part with it never, for silver or gold.
It has dates of professions, pictures and rhymes
That tell of our youthful and happiest times
(All look into the book)
S. Rose Ellen: Why! Here’s Sister Sebastian, a friend old and true,
I remember her perfectly, don’t you?
S. Crescentia: Her profession was in spring when flowers were gay
S. Mary Mark: Ah, no! T’was in August, one bright summer day
S. Rose Ellen: I thought t’was in winter with snow all about
But let’s look it up so there’ll be no more doubt.
(All look into date section)
S. Mary Mark: Why t’was 36 years ago to the date
How soon after we shared that very same fate
Of leaving our Novitiate home so dear
It seems long ago, yet oh, so near.
S. Jane Frances: But the Lord’s will, we were glad to fulfill
And we’re happy to be here tonight.
S. Crescentia: When Sister Sebastian first left, how we missed her
For she always was such a lovable sister,
S. Rose Ellen: ‘Twould be quite pleasant a greeting to send her
In order our sincerest wishes to tender,
S. Mary Mark: Let’s all make a verse in her honor right now
Between us we’ll get it together somehow.
S. Crescentia: But how will we start it, that is the thing
If we can’t write a poem we may have to sing.
S. Jane Frances: Oh let’s don’t do that, I’d rather compose
If you had something better you’d like to propose.
S. Mary Mark: My mind in that line is a dry as a shingle
The best I could do would be a mere jingle.
S. Rose Ellen: The poem I’d write would not bring a shilling
But let us all try and show we are willing.
S. Jane Frances: Let’s get to work and write a rhyme or a twister
In honor of her, our very dear sister.
S. Rose Ellen: Now no one must speak until we are through
In her memory and honor our best we must do.
S. Crescentia: Oh, let’s work together, it’s so much more fun
Even if the verses don’t so smoothly run.
S. Mary Mark: Alright, then sister you write a verse,
And we’ll each add a line, for better or worse.
S. Jane Frances: We’ll call up old memories and see what we find
There are many I know down deep in my mind.
S. Rose Ellen: She was gentle and kind, as everyone knew
Nothing we’d say could be more true.
S. Mary Mark: And Sister Sebastian was so full of fun
For having good times she could not be outdone.
S. Crescentia: And while on our stockings great patches we laid
To make them look neater, her holes she crocheted.
S. Jane Frances: The big dorms on 4th floor she dusted and garnished.
S. Crescentia: How can you recall that, my memory’s so tarnished?
S. Rose Ellen: And the dummy she carefully sent up to supper
From the lower floor clear to the upper.
S. Jane Frances: When she had the men’s dining room long, long ago,
The beggars would wait in an unending row.
For her charity welcomed each waif and each stray,
And they thanked God at even for a good meal that day
And if they returned, it was only to find
She had become not impatient, but even more kind.
S. Rose Ellen: She was willing and anxious to give all she had
If that would but make someone happy and glad.
S. Mary Mary: And her Irish heart is made of pure gold
Be sure that her friendship will never grow cold
S. Crescentia: That’s why we should send her a greeting worthwhile
But writing poetry is such a trial.
S. Jane Frances: If we don’t get started, we’ll never be finished.
My store of poetry is long since diminished.
S. Rose Ellen: Come now, no excuses! We all must be in it.
S. Mary Mark: I might help a little if you’d only begin it.
(All try to write)
S. Crescentia: Anniversary’s such a hard word to use
If you try to put that it, your rhyme you will lose.
S. Rose Ellen: Congratulations is even worse
I’m sure I can never get both in a verse.
S. Jane Frances Then use something else, say greetings or wishes
But then all that will rhyme is meetings or fishes.
S. Mary Mark: But rhyme doesn’t count much, it’s all in the meter
Let’s just write a note and tell her that we greet her.
Presumably this manuscript itself was the note sent to Sister Mary Sebastian. If Sister Mary Mark were still living, Miranda’s recent Hamilton success might have inspired her to write a full musical about the SCL novitiate!
 Sister Mary Mark Orr Papers, 1859-1982. Box 2, Folder 12. SCLMS021. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives. Leavenworth, Kansas.
 Only a librarian would give a book such a prominent role in a poetic drama!
 “Dummy” refers to the dumbwaiter that transported food from the ground floor kitchen to the dining areas on the upper floors.
 The men’s dining room was most likely for the community’s male employees who lived on campus in the men’s house. Men worked the sisters’ farmland and even assisted with manual labor in the community’s kitchen.
 According to a 2001 interview with Sisters Jeanne Marie Zeugin and Mary Ellenita Uhlrich regarding the Mead Hall kitchen, hungry Leavenworth families and transient men were given leftover food by the sisters. “The Old Kitchen: An Interview,” 2001. Mead Hall / Mead Kitchen. Campus Buildings Vertical File. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives.