Sister Geraldine Doiron, MM

Born: March 13, 1929
Entered: September 6, 1949
Died: May 29, 2008

This morning we come together to celebrate as a family the entrance into new life of our Sister Geraldine Doiron, who died peacefully in Maryknoll Residential Care IV, on May 29, 2008. She was 79 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 58 years.

Alice Sophia Geraldine Doiron was born in New Acadia, King’s County, Prince Edward Island, on March 13, 1929, to Elizabeth Devine Doiron and Leo Doiron. Alice, usually called Geraldine and nicknamed “Gerry,” was one of three children. She had a brother, Leo G. Doiron, and a sister, Mrs. Shirley Fall. Geraldine attended New Acadia Grammar School in St. Charles and graduated from St. Mary’s Convent School in Souris, Prince Edward Island, in 1947. For two years before entering Maryknoll, she taught school in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Sister Geraldine entered Maryknoll September 6, 1949, at Maryknoll, New York. At reception she received the religious name of Sister Leo Marie. She made her First Profession of vows March 7, 1952, at Maryknoll, New York, and her Final Profession of vows on March 7, 1955 in Chile. Before being given her mission assignment to Chile in 1953, she obtained her Certificate in Secondary Education from Prince of Wales College, Prince Edward Island.

During her 48 years in Chile, she served periodically on the Regional Governing Board. From 1953 until 1978, she worked as an educator, a primary school teacher and education director in the cities of Galvarino, Talcahuano and Santiago.

Following the Second Vatican Council, changes in the concept of mission brought about the diversification of ministries. While still playing a supportive role in the direction of the school, in San Juan de Dios, in Buzeta, in 1974, Gerry turned her attention to the Christian formation of women, established prayer groups, and worked with women in the field of mental health.

In 1978, she came to the Center for Congregational Service in Supportive Services, until 1982, when she returned to Chile, in Lo Prado in Santiago.

Chile at this time was under an oppressive government. The poor and especially the women were under tremendous stress and were prone to depression especially from the loss of loved ones and the disappearance of husbands and sons. The women bore the burden of caring for their families. Together with Sister Helen Carpenter, she responded to this need by setting up a Center to offer a variety of programs to help women share their stories and recognize their own self-worth and help them deal with domestic violence and other problems of oppression. They called the Center Casa Malen meaning “spirit of womanhood” in the language of Chile’s Mapuchi Indians. From 1982 to 1987 some 550 women participated in this program which continues today.

Gerry’s love for people reflected her ability to listen to people with a truly compassionate heart. She had the outstanding quality of being truly present to the people. Many found peace and deep comfort with her who was also blessed with a saving grace of a kindly humor. It is not by chance that she was called home to God on the eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart. Gerry had the heart of Jesus. The Gospel of the feast says, “Come to me all of you who labor and are weary and I will give you rest!”(Mt. 11:28). Gerry was the personification of this both in her relationship with God and with people. She was a haven of peaceful rest. That is what she did throughout all of her missionary life in Chile. She went about doing good for the helpless, the lonely and the sick.

There would be so much to say about Gerry. She had that rare capacity of finding something good to say about everyone. One Sister from Chile said: “I remember sharing so many hard times with her and she would always say, you have to see it all in the light of eternity and she really did. Even to the very end, she smiled at life and at all of us around her. Everyone felt so affirmed in her presence. I guess she was perhaps the most affirming person I have ever known.”

Gerry was simply loving. She loved God, loved her family, Maryknoll, the people God sent to her in her mission in Chile. Her beautiful smile and laugh gave them much strength to rise above the trials of life and trust in God. She was gifted in giving good advice. Gerry did not wish to be served but to serve with all her being and that she did.

In 2003 due to ill health Gerry returned to Maryknoll, New York and was assigned to the Center Eden Community. Her prayer Ministry was for her beloved Chile.

We offer our condolences to Gerry’s family. We thank you for sharing with us such a wonder-filled Sister. Our condolences also to Sister Helen Carpenter, her long time friend and mission companion on the journey and to the Chilean Region.

We offer our gratitude to Maryknoll Residential Care Staff for the gentle, loving and understanding care they gave Gerry during her illness.

We welcome our Maryknoll Father Ernest Lukascheck, who will celebrate the liturgy of Christian Burial.

“There is nothing more astonishing than life, just as it is nothing more miraculous than growth and change, just as revealed to us. And as happens so often when we stop to regard God’s work, there is nothing to do but wonder and thank God.” – Mother Mary Joseph, 1936

And so we thank God for Gerry and the life she shared with us. We will always remember her gentle smile, and the twinkle in her eyes!