The Easter candle burning near Sister Geri speaks to us of light, warmth, and giving of self. It speaks to us of Sister Geraldine Dahlman who, like a candle, gave light in others’ darkness, warmth to cold hearts, and always giving of herself.
Loretta and Gerald Dahlman welcomed their second child – a girl, Geraldine – with loving hearts. Their first child, Mary, died in a kitchen accident. God blessed them with four more children – Richard, Robert, Tom, and Joanne. Richard died young of a heart attack, leaving a wife and two children.
Today, we gather to bury Sister Geri, as she was called. We bury her body, but her active and loving spirit lives on in the hearts of family and friends.
The Dahlmans lived in Franklin, Wisconsin, close to their grandfather’s land. Their hospitality was forever and for everyone! Many, many times at mealtime extra chairs were put around the table to accommodate those who just happened to be passing by. There was always enough to eat for family and guests. Their home was surrounded in faith, love, and laughter.
Much to her parents’ surprise, after grade school, Geri told them of her desire to join the School Sisters of St. Francis, so Geri’s name was deleted from Pius High School’s list of freshmen.
Geri chose to be a homemaker; the kitchen was her paradise! During her first convent years she worked in the convent kitchen learning the skills of cooking. At reception, Geri was given the name Sister Clotilda and soon after reception, she was sent out to minister as a convent homemaker.
Her first mission was St. Joseph, Wilmette. There she prepared and served the sisters delicious meals; she washed and ironed; she did all those many chores – some noticed and many unnoticed. We thank you, Sister Geri, for the work of your hands. Our thanks are even greater for the heart you put into convents to make them homes.
In the ’60s, after Vatican II, there were changes in the School Sisters of St. Francis community. Sister Geri adjusted to the changes. She used her skills and talents outside of convents to minister and serve others. Her ministry took her to retirement and nursing homes. Geri had that special kindness that reached out and touched people’s hearts.
In the 2000s, people began bringing clothing, furniture, and other items to the Layton Boulevard convent. Sister Geri was put in charge of a resale shop that was located in the large garage, since the vehicles could be parked outside in summer. In winter, Sister Geri had to donate most of her treasures to other resale shops. Later the decision was made to move the resale shop to the old powerhouse.
The young, the old, the poor, and the not so poor left the shop happy with their new treasures. Sister Geri did not have to advertise. People learned about the shop from their neighbors, family, and friends.
Sister Geri was a longtime friend of the Amish. She made many trips to visit them and sold their furniture and homemade candy in her shop.
Like all things in life, everything comes to an end. On February 2, 2019, Sister Geri ended her ministry in the Last Stop Shop. Shortly thereafter she moved to Our Lady of the Angels.
We give thanks to God for Sister Geri’s life and ministry. Just as the stars shine in darkness, so Sister Geri’s deeds lit the way for others to find their way. In the words of Flavia, we say: Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same!