Sister Gertrude Therese Garvey
“Sing to the Lord a new song . …” (Psalm 140:1)
“Today we come together to honor the life of two great women. Sister Alexa Suelzer and I will try to bring into focus the creativity and talents of these sisters, Sisters Gertrude Therese and Rose Marie Garvey,” said Sister Catherine Livers in her commentary for Sister Gertrude Therese, who died March 15.
“The Psalm, with its lines to sing praise to God and dance in festive dance with harp and timbrel, must have inspired Sister Gertrude Therese. For wherever she went, she brought music and singing. And rightfully so, for her father James Garvey was born in Ireland, the land of music, deep spirituality and Irish folklore,” continued Sister Catherine.
Gertrude Rita Garvey, born March 27, 1921, in Chicago, was one of four children of James and Sarah (McGarvey) Garvey. She attended Our Lady of Sorrows Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago. She followed in the footsteps of her sister Sister Rose Marie and entered the Congregation Feb. 2, 1941. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1943, and Jan. 23, 1949, respectively. Sister Gertrude Therese earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Cincinnati.
Sister Gertrude Therese commenced teaching music in 1943 at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis. In Indiana, she also ministered at St. Joseph, Indianapolis; Assumption, Evansville; and All Saints, Hammond. She spent a few years on the East Coast at St. Ann, Washington, D.C.; Sacred Heart, Malden, Mass.; and Ascension, Halethorpe, Md. In Illinois, she taught music at Sacred Heart, Lockport; St. Joseph, Downers Grove; and St. Sylvester and St. Agnes, Chicago. From 1971 to 1978, Sister Gertrude Therese ministered in a variety of roles at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. For two years after that ministry, she served as a caseworker for Catholic Charities, Lake County, Waukegan and Mundelein, Ill. Beginning in 1980, she ministered as pastoral associate for several parishes including Holy Angels Parish, Sturgis, Mich.; St. Malachy Parish, Brownsburg, Ind; and St. Joseph Parish, Lebanon, Ind. She returned to the Woods in 1997 and volunteered in a variety of capacities.
“In the years when the book, “To God Through Music,” was being written, Sister Gertrude Therese was engaged in writing the lyrics for the songs under the watchful eye of Sister Mary Lourdes Mackey (RIP), who called the group together on free days, weekends, vacation days and summers at the Woods. Perhaps it is safe to say that at times they would have chosen to be relaxing or talking with friends, but Sister Gertrude Therese was always able to lighten the work by her quick wit and infectious laughter,” said Sister Catherine.
“Sister Gertrude Therese inherited a deep spirituality from her parents, and she had a strong and lasting loyalty to her friends. Whenever her name is mentioned, the first thing people say is how fun-loving she could be, and there is always laughter at the remembrance of her practical jokes and her quick wit. That kind of happiness can only come from inner peace, a sense of well-being and a trust in God’s Providence which will never fail,” said Sister Catherine.
“On March 15, Sister Gertrude Therese quietly slipped into heaven, and the next day she reached down and brought her sister Rose Marie home with her. I am sure she is regaling the heavens with her music, song and Irish wit,” said Sister Catherine.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Gertrude Therese was celebrated March 22, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by both of her brothers.Her sister Sister Rose Marie died March 16.
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