Many people could have missed the news of the death of the great music teacher of all time and let alone her burial at Chishawasha Mission cemetery due to COVID-19. However, the Bible says in Revelations 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” True indeed! Sr. Loyola will be remembered as a woman of wit and great intelligence. Although the pandemic kept those who knew Sr. Loyola away from bidding her farewell, her works will remain their inspiration when they recount her musical prowess.
Sisters Ferrera Weinzierl O.P, Rosemary Lemmermeier O.P and Rudo S Matsika O.P summarizes the life of the great musical heroine.
Sr. Loyola, Elisabeth Dressel, was an only child, a “Muenchner Kindl”, born in the Heart of Bavaria in 1914. She attended the normal primary and secondary education studies of her time, Licentiate she called it. At the age of 18 she lost both her parents.
She entered the Convent at the age of 20 in Strahlfeld with 17 other young ladies in 1935. She was early in her life acquainted with music, played the piano and 4 string musical instruments, such as guitar, violin and zither.
She came to Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1938, made her final vows in 1939 and then obtained her music qualifications obtaining a certificate from the Trinity Music College in London.
Here in Africa she taught music in Harare, Gweru, Luanshya, Bulawayo, Mutare and again in Harare until she was 99 years of age. When she fell and broke her wrist, she was then officially transferred from the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters to the House of Adoration on 1 August 2013.
On her 80th Profession Jubilee Sr. Kamfwa Mutale OP, our Mother General, said:
“Few of us can celebrate their 100th birthday. Her face radiated with joy at the many surprises she received from the Sisters and the ‘Old Girls’, her pupils who are now scattered all over the world. The ‘old girls’ gave her a big surprise concert at the Dominican School Hall in Harare, on the occasion of celebrating her 100th birthday.
She introduced herself to the German Ambassador who came to congratulate her as “Muenchner Kindl”, a citizen of Muenchen.
Sr. Pelagia Siziba OP, the Regional Superior at the time, said: “May I take this opportunity to express my deep and sincere gratitude for the many years of dedicated service that you rendered as a music teacher in Zambia and Zimbabwe. You were an excellent mentor of all the students who shared your passion for music. We know that all those who passed through your hands did extremely well – they won prizes and fame because of the skills that they learnt from you, they were the best nationwide! Now you deserve a good rest and peace!
Sr Loyola touched lives of people who today will not be able to give their testimonies because of the Covid-19 constraints. One of them Fr. Myke Mwale O.P the current provincial of the Dominican Fathers in Southern Africa writes, “I used to have piano lessons with Sr Loyola. The one-hour lesson was joyfully divided into 15 minutes of music lesson and 45 minutes of chit-chat and juicy gossip. She wanted to know what was happening in my life, in the church and shared proudly about her students who were doing well in different parts of the world. I did not grow to become a Mozart, but I remembered all those chats more than the musical theories.” In her own words Sr. Loyola said; “I am quite happy with the young sisters…I like talking to young sisters… ordinary talking”.
Sr Loyola loved life and created time to go out and celebrate whenever she had the opportunity.
Sister Loyola’s general health condition was amazingly well – joining the community in her wheelchair for the liturgy and at tea times and responded with her usual smile when addressed directly until some days ago, since 4 August 2020, when she had fallen out of her wheelchair – possibly due to a small stroke. Although she did not sustain any injury, her general condition deteriorated, she no longer responded as usual, nor wanting to eat or drink. During the night from 7th to 8th August we took it in turns to watch and pray with her until 8.30 am when on the Feast of St. Dominic she was taken to the heavenly home for which she was surely longing. We trust that the heavenly choirs received her with special instruments since she loved music all her life long.
Compiled by Sisters Ferrera Weinzierl O.P, Sr Rosemary Lemmermeier O.P and Sr Rudo S Matsika O.P