Sister Eugenia Gorman, MM

Born: February 4, 1902
Entered: September 20, 1921
Died: April 30, 1997

Today we celebrate the Liturgy of Resurrection for Sister Mary Eugenia Gorman whose presence blessed our lives for more than seventy-five years. Sister Eugenia died peacefully at 2:30 p.m. on April 30, 1997, in the Residential Care Unit at Maryknoll, New York. Two of her nieces, Bonnie Gorman and Mary Beth Madden, and her good friend, Sister Marge Kulage, were at her bedside when she responded to God’s invitation of peace after having lived a long and good life. Sister Eugenia was ninety-five years old.

Mary Josephine Gorman was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on February 4, 1902, to Mary Joyce and Michael Gorman. She had three brothers and two sisters. Mary attended Frothingham Elementary School  in Charlestown and graduated from Mount St. Joseph’s Academy in Brighton, Massachusetts. She worked for two years as a secretary before entering Maryknoll on September 20, 1921. At Reception she received the religious name of Sister Mary Eugenia.

Soon after making her First Profession at Maryknoll, New York, on April 19, 1924, Sister Eugenia began her overseas mission experience as a member of the pioneer group assigned to Korea where she spent the next seventeen years of her life in service to the Korean people by organizing parish activities, giving religious instruction, being the parish organist and working in the parish industrial center. During World War II she was interned at Yeng You in 1941, and was repatriated to the United States on the Gripsholm in August 1942.

Upon returning to Maryknoll, New York, Sister Eugenia worked for four years in The Field Afar office, now the Maryknoll Magazine office, before going to Los Angeles, California, to work with Hispanics and Japanese. In 1952 she returned to Korea when the Maryknoll Sisters were the first American civilians allowed to enter South Korea after the Korean War. There she continued her ministry in catechetics for the next eight years before returning to the United States.

Sister was missioned in Texas for six years then in St. Louis, Missouri, and in Boston, Massachusetts, before settling in Corpus Christi, Texas, for fifteen years (1970-1985). Here she played the piano for the music class in a nursery school, taught religion and was parish organist. At the age of 83 Sister Eugenia decided it was time for her to retire and went to Monrovia, California, until health concerns brought her to Maryknoll, New York, in 1992.

Sisters at the Center who knew Sister Eugenia characterized her as a delightful person to know and one who had the “saving grace of a sense of humor,” of which Mother Mary Joseph so often spoke and of which we heard stories about last evening at the Wake Service. Sister Eugenia always seemed to know how to lighten one’s spirit and put things in perspective. She was a good community person and had a very positive approach to life. Her approach to life is reflected in an interview many years ago when she was asked if her six months of internment in Yeng You were difficult. She responded: “It wasn’t too difficult because the Korean people were awfully good. They’d come by in the night and leave food and things there for us. It seems to me that we didn’t want for anything. We’d save the coffee grounds from five or six days and reuse them to make coffee again and it tasted alright. I don’t really recall any real difficulties.”

Sr. Marge Kulage remembers the day just a little over two weeks ago when she and Sister attended the 70th and 75th Maryknoll Jubilee celebration in the Main House community room. At the end of the celebration when all joined in singing “Maryknoll, My Maryknoll” Marge handed Sister a songbook pointing to the verse that everyone was singing. Although Sister Eugenia had difficulty speaking she began mouthing the words along with everyone else, giving witness to her life-long love and dedication to Maryknoll.

In August 1921 when Mary Josephine Gorman was preparing to enter Maryknoll her pastor, Fr. Thomas McCoy, wrote: “I deem it a great honor to have one from this parish blessed with a vocation for the foreign missions. I am sure it will bring wonderful graces to the priests and people of St. Catherine’s. In sending you Miss Gorman we are sending you our very best.” Sister Eugenia also brought us many graces during the past seventy-five years. Truly, Father McCoy sent us one of the “very best!”

We welcome Sister’s family and friends. We thank you for joining us in this Liturgy of the Resurrection for Sister and we extend our deepest sympathy to each of you. We thank our Maryknoll brother, Father Charles Huegelmeyer who will preside at this Eucharist of Resurrection as together we thank God for the gift of Sister Eugenia’s life.