I had a blessed life made possible by the deep influence of the School Sisters of St. Francis. That influence began when I entered the halls of Alvernia High School and I met the spirited, joy-filled sisters who ministered there. They opened my mind and heart to social issues. By the end of my four years in high school, I knew I wanted to be a School Sister of St. Francis.
As I reflect on my life at this time, I see three distinct periods, the first being my 20 years as a high school teacher. My love of music helped me inspire students and give them the joy that I experienced. Those years were filled with classes, lessons, and play productions.
The second part of my life was in administration. For the next seven years, I was part of the Provincial Leadership Team for the Rockford Province. This was a period of great growth for me. They were wonderful years. It gave me the opportunity to work directly with the sisters.
This experience also gave me the desire to assist others on their personal life journeys, so I went to school to receive a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. For the next 40 years, I accompanied others on their personal journeys. At this time in my life, I worked six days a week in three different offices in the Chicago area.
Music was always part of my life. I played with three different symphony orchestras and many times I was the concert mistress. I also gave recitals and made two recordings. My love of music made it easy for me to practice early in the morning or late at night.
At the age of 90, I gave up my clinical psychology practice. I looked for other ways to use my energy. Having lost some of my hearing I also had to give up my violin. Both of these events were extreme losses to me. It was a letting go of what I truly loved.
When I think about my life, I realize that relationships are truly the treasures of life. I am so grateful for my dear friends. Something my mother told me over and over stays with me: “One needs to be the best one can be, always staying in the process of becoming.”
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If you ever had the pleasure of hearing and seeing Sister Gerda play the violin, you knew that her whole person was playing that instrument. She and the violin became one and the music touched your inner self. Happy Jubilee, Sister Gerda!
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