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Sister Gerry (Marie Richard) Cavanaugh

Sister Gerry Cavanaugh

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God.” (1 John 4:7)

“Anyone who knew Sister Gerry Cavanaugh was aware that she loved God, loved life and the people in her life,” said Sister Rita Clare Gerardot in her commentary for Sister Gerry Cavanaugh, who died Oct. 14.

Born Sept. 1, 1925, in Chicago, Geraldine Margaret Cavanaugh was one of two children of William and Mary (Walsh) Cavanaugh. She attended St. Genevieve Elementary School, Chicago.

“Because her mother died when she was in grade school, her father decided that boarding his active and mischievous young daughter at Marywood High School in Evanston, Ill., would be best,” said Sister Rita Clare.

Entering the Congregation July 22, 1944, she received the religious name Sister Marie Richard. She professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1947, and 1952, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree from Indiana State University.

For more than four decades, Sister Gerry ministered in education. She started at St. John Grade School, Indianapolis, in 1947. In Indiana, she also ministered at Holy Trinity, New Albany; Sacred Heart, Terre Haute; and St. John, Vincennes. She spent part of a year at Immaculate Conception, Tulsa, Okla. In Illinois, her pedagogical ministry led her to St. Joseph, Downers Grove; St. Angela, St. Andrew, St. Francis Borgia, City Colleges and Wright College, Chicago; Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove; and St. Zachary School, Des Plaines. For two years, she served as the secretary of St. Joseph Provincial House, Park Ridge, Ill.

“Sister Gerry also worked for Monsignor Jack Egan (RIP) in the Office of Urban Affairs in Chicago and later at the University of Notre Dame in the Center for Pastoral Ministries. She did research and communication for Father Pat O’Malley when he headed the National Federation of Priests’ Councils,” shared Sister Rita Clare.

“In 1981, Sister Gerry assumed the responsibility as coordinator of the Marywood [Evanston, Ill.] Alumnae Association and continued in this position until her death. This year was the first time Sister Gerry missed the annual fall luncheon. Through numerous phone calls and e-mails she guided the work of four or five faithful alums who took over responsibility for this year’s social event. She was very pleased and relieved to hear from several sources that all went well at the luncheon,” said Sister Rita Clare.

“Now I’d like to share a story of novitiate days. During recreation we always had to be ‘usefully employed’ and that usually meant darning one’s socks. Sister Gerry had a unique way — untie the shoe, cross your leg and darn the sock while on your foot. She got away with this once. No one was encouraged to follow her example,” shared Sister Rita Clare.

“Throughout her life, Sister Gerry was an avid reader, and she instilled this in others. More than once, Sister Catherine Livers told me how Sister Gerry encouraged her to read.

“Sister Gerry got to know the Gerardot family quite well, and she dearly loved my mom. Mom always welcomed her visits. She told her, ‘Gerry, just get on Highway 30 and head east.’ She often did this when she knew I would be home,” continued Sister Rita Clare.

Sister Rita Clare concluded her commentary by saying, “Thank you, Sister Gerry, for your friendship of 63 years! Thanks for the love you shared with thousands during your years of ministry! Now the God you served so faithfully has welcomed you home. Dance and sing for joy!”

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Gerry was celebrated Oct. 20 with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by her brother Richard.

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