Vigil keeping is a sacred act of love for Sister Denise
Sister Denise Demulling dedicated much of her life in ministry to education, including 10 years as a teacher and advocate for students with hearing impairments. After she earned certification to work with elder populations, Sr. Denise began serving as activities director at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus in Milwaukee. That was in 1992, when our sisters took on religious sponsorship of the assisted living and skilled care facility. Sr. Denise served in that role for 14 years, and recalls, “When I was activities director, I encouraged our staff to visit residents who were dying because I knew family members couldn’t always be there. I would tell the staff to love them to death.”
After her retirement in 2006, Sr. Denise decided to stay connected to St. Anne’s as a Vigil Keeper. She says, “I always wanted to be a part of the Vigil Keepers ministry. Families are always so appreciative, especially if they can’t be with their loved who is dying.
“When I kept vigil, I always felt I was on very holy ground. To be present to that person was so important to me,” Sr. Denise says. “It’s been said that hearing is the last sense to go when a person is dying. Knowing my visit could be the last time a person hears a human voice − just think about that. I felt a deep sense of awe that my voice could be the last someone hears while here on earth.”