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Sister Kathleen Mary Gay

Sister Kathleen Mary Gay

“Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and he read: ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me … He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free.’ And they were astonished by his gracious words.”

— A reading from the Gospel according to Luke.

As I spoke with various people the past few days about Sister Kathleen Mary Gay, over and over, each one described her as a “gracious” person, whether it was those she had lived with, ministered with, been band members with, or been close to her these last days. It was her graciousness which they most remembered. And so, this scripture passage seemed appropriate: “… they were astonished by his gracious words,” said Sister Margaret Quinlan in her commentary for Sister Kathleen Mary Gay, who died Friday, April 28, 2017, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 95 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 72 years.

Sister Kathleen Mary was born in Woburn, Mass., in 1921, to Mary Ellen and William Gay. She was baptized Kathleen Mary, and later kept that name as her religious name. She had three sisters and a brother, all of whom are deceased. She went to elementary and high school at St. Patrick, Stoneham, Mass., graduating in 1939. She entered the Congregation in 1944, with part of her novitiate in Washington, D.C., and part here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She took final vows in 1952. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and her master’s in education from Rivier College in New Hampshire.

Sister Kathleen Mary Gay

Teacher and principal for 40 years in Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire

In Indiana: Holy Trinity, New Albany (1947); St. Rose, Vincennes (1955-57); Holy Spirit, Indianapolis (1960-62); St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis (1962-65)

In Illinois: Sacred Heart, Lockport (1949-51); St. David, Chicago (1952-55)

In Massachusetts: St. Patrick, Stoneham (1957-60); St. Rose, Chelsea (1988-2014)

In North Carolina: St. Patrick, Fayetteville (1947-49)

In New Hampshire: Lady Isle, Portsmouth (1965-68); St. Mary, Rochester (1969-73 and principal, 1973-74); Rochester Catholic, Rochester (1974-76)

In Maryland: St. Clement, Lansdowne (1968-69); Holy Redeemer, College Park (principal, 1976-87)

Kathleen Mary ministered for 40 years in schools in Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire as a music teacher and as an elementary teacher and principal. She is remembered as an excellent teacher, whom the children really loved. Beginning in 1988, she volunteered at the convent in Chelsea for 26 years and in Revere for nine more years. She returned to the Woods in 2014, where her ministry was to pray for postulants.

According to her friends, Kathleen Mary was a delight, had a wonderful sense of humor, loved parties, and loved to go out to eat, especially to go out to eat “down by the water,” which she could do more easily in Massachusetts than here in Indiana. I guess the closest she could get to that around here was to go to the Red Lobster, which she enjoyed with band members, Sister Rita Clare and Sister Kathryn Koressel. But her special favorite treat, according to Sister Cynthia Lynge, was Dunkin’ Donuts blueberry muffins.

Kathleen Mary was close to her band members, not close geographically, but close as friends. When she returned to the Woods in 2014, under the instigation of Sister Ann Krause, her band members “waited for her at the East Door the evening she arrived to give her a proper welcome. Do you suppose Anne Krause was waiting for her when she arrived at the Heavenly Gates last week?

Kathleen Mary loved classical music and she loved to read. When her sight failed, she enjoyed “talking books.” She entered into life as much as she could, being able to live with the limitation of her near blindness. She enjoyed sitting in the sun. She liked “working out’ which Kathryn Koressel. She liked walking around with Sister Richard, then stopping in the dining room for coffee. She cared about the staff and enjoyed talking with them. She wanted to be with people, to be with the sisters, to watch the news and Jeopardy. She had a wonderful attitude toward life.

Obviously, Kathleen Mary will be missed. She was a lovely, appreciative, gracious woman.

Funeral services for Sister Kathleen Mary took place on Monday, May 8, and Tuesday, May 9, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

A Wake took place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Monday, May 8, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial took place at 11 a.m., on Tuesday, May 9.

We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Kathleen Mary in the comment section below.

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1 Comment

  1. Judy Houghton on April 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Sister Kathleen Mary had two sisters that lived in Stoneham around the corner from the bottom of the street where I grew up. We shared many a story about our neighborhood and I always felt connected in some way to another from my hometown. Sr. Kathleen Mary was a very sweet person who was very kind towards others and was a joy to visit with when we connected. RIP Sister Kathleen Mary.

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