Sister Grace Forster was born on October 5, 1925. Her family home was in Union City, New Jersey. She had eight siblings, the youngest of whom was developmentally delayed and, therefore, especially loved and cared for by his family. The Forsters were a very Catholic family and it was no surprise that, in due time, four of the children entered religious life.
Grace was hit by a car as a child and narrowly escaped with her life. God had plans for her! She recovered and did very well in school. When she was 15, she realized that God was calling her to religious life, but of course she had to wait. Following her mother’s advice, after finishing high school she got a scholarship to New Jersey State Teachers College and graduated there, though her heart was in missionary work. She entered Maryknoll in September after her graduation. She loved the sisters and the life, but something was not fitting in with the way of life she was seeking. When the time for taking vows drew near, she did not know what to do. She was advised to leave, because the sisters knew her heart was not in Maryknoll and her call was to something different.
She had known about the Trappist Cistercian monks but did not know there were Trappistines too. When she learned of the Trappistines at Glencairn in Ireland and their plans to come to the U.S. to found a new community, she was all set to go. She contacted both the monks at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley and the Abbess of Glencairn. She was accepted and went to Ireland by ship to enter Saint Mary's Abbey on September 4, 1948. With other American and Canadian candidates she began to learn the way Cistercians live, work, and pray. She received the Novice habit on the following May 1, 1949 and the religious name Sister Mary Andrew. After saying goodbye to Glencairn and crossing the ocean, she and the other sisters destined for the new foundation arrived in Wrentham on October 1 of that year.
In due time, Sister Grace made First Vows on January 13, 1951, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Her Final Profession took place on January 13, 1954. When our nuns were finally permitted to make Solemn Vows, she was in the large group, including the Abbess, that took them on January 28, 1957, the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Sister Grace loved the choir, the chant, and even more, the words to turn over in her heart. She knew Greek well and was a very popular Latin teacher for many years. She also loved the community and a number of times made holy cards or place-markers with little drawings on them and wonderful quotes as a gifts to everyone. When she was appointed Choir Novice Director she did very well in her teaching and in her kindness and care of the many candidates. She loved working in the vegetable garden and used to begin a weeding job with the challenge to the novices to race down the rows of some vegetables. She always won!
A very important job she held for many years was taking care of the finances of the community. She was good at that job too, but when the computer age arrived, it took a while to appeal to her practical mind sufficiently to move from her typewriter to a computer. Seeing the points made by those who helped her, she did yield, gracefully. As time went on and the job became more complex, she was given a permanent helper, Sr. Christa Maria, and the way they worked together through thick and thin was beautiful. Eventually Sr. Christa Maria was given the responsibility, but Sr. Grace happily stayed on to help, with her experience and wisdom, to say nothing of her sense of humor. This was much appreciated.
Her last two years were spent mostly in the infirmary, though she did as much as she could to stay on her feet and to be in community. She suffered a massive stroke January 9, 2012 on the Baptism of Our Lord, a feast she especially loved and in which her long Cistercian life was enfolded. Her death came suddenly but gently two days later just as our Chaplain was saying at Mass, “Grace is a wise virgin.” May she be warmly welcomed in heaven!