Sister Marie Consolata Gallagher
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. …” (John 14:2)
“If home in the natural sense is ‘the place from which we start,’ Mary Gallagher’s home was Errarooey in County Donegal, Ireland. On Dec. 2, 1914, just as the world was being shaken by the thunder of the First World War, Mary was born the only daughter of Dennis Gallagher and Bridget McFadden, both native to Ireland,” said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Marie Consolata Gallagher, who died July 24.
Sister Marie Consolata’s father went to the United States seeking work and left his family, which included a son, Owen, in the village of Errarooey. Due to the violence between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, Dennis moved his wife and children in with family members in Gourock, Scotland. It was there at St. Ninian Grade School that Sister Marie Consolata began her education.
The Gallagher family eventually reunited in Philadelphia where Sister Marie Consolata attended St. Francis Xavier grade and high schools. When Sister Marie Consolata shared with a Jesuit priest that she was considering religious life, he suggested the Sisters of Providence.
“Although her teachers at Saint Francis Xavier High School, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, were expecting her to come to them, Sister Marie Consolata decided for the unknown and chose the Sisters of Providence,” continued Sister Mary Roger.
Sister Marie Consolata entered the Congregation June 13, 1932, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1935, and 1941, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education/counseling from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Sister Marie Consolata began teaching in 1935 at St. Mary Carmelite, Joliet, Ill. In Chicago, her classrooms were at St. Mel, Our Lady of Mercy and St. Angela. In Indiana she ministered at St. Ignatius, Lafayette, and St. John, Vincennes. Sister Marie Consolata spent several years on the East Coast teaching middle grades and high school. In Washington, D.C., these schools included St. Ann and Immaculata. In Maryland, they included Holy Redeemer, Berwyn; Ascension, Halethorpe; Holy Redeemer, College Park; and Good Counsel High School, Wheaton. Before returning to the Woods in 2002, Sister Marie Consolata ministered as a library assistant at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove, Ill.
“Always an avid student, Sister Marie Consolata took advantage of every opportunity to develop her keen intellect. One example of these opportunities that bore much fruit was a grant she received to pursue Shakespearean studies at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Many students at Immaculata were to be the beneficiaries of those studies as she became one of the Congregation’s most knowledgeable teachers of Shakespeare,” said Sister Mary Roger.
“From her early childhood, Sister Marie Consolata had had many earthly homes — in Ireland, in Scotland, in Philadelphia, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. However, those who knew her always associated her with Ireland. There was something so inescapably Irish about her: the wry sense of humor which, even if spoken, revealed itself in her dark expressive eyes; the delicate sensitivity of her poet-heart shown in a quiet reserve that respected the privacy of others and welcomed it for herself in return.
“It has been said that the deep ache we all experience at times, the loneliness that seeks friendship, security or comfort, is our longing for home, nothing more. Then we surely can rejoice with Sister Marie Consolata who is at long last at home in the deepest, truest meaning of the word,” said Sister Mary Roger.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Marie Consolata was celebrated July 29, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by her brother.
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