Sister Gloria Pandjiris, MM

Born: March 11, 1923
Entered: September 6, 1944
Died: February 13, 1994

As we knew her in life, Sister Gloria Pandjiris was always gracious and so she remained during her four years of illness – gracious to the end. She died quietly at 6:25 the morning of February 13, 1994.

And so once again we are confronted and challenged with the mystery of life, suffering and death. Death is understood as more than the end of existence and an earthly life and more as an entry into a new life. We believe this in faith because of our faith in Jesus, his teachings and resurrection. The mystery of life and death calls us to a deeper life of faith that grows and generates hope that engenders love. Gloria’s person and life reminds us of this. Her presence among us and her witness as a gracious woman, a committed Christian and dedicated missioner will continue in our memory. Gloria’s warm love for others will inspire us to live out St. Paul’s words in I Corinthians (13:13) “There are three things that remain – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.

Gloria loved much. This was apparent, particularly with her family. She was born March 11, 1923, in St. Louis and baptized Rosemary Gloria. Her parents, Mary and Kimon Anthony Pandjiris, to whom she was devoted, are both deceased.

Gloria graduated from the Ursuline Academy in Oakland, MO in June, 1940. She then attended Fontbonne University in St. Louis and graduated in 1944 with a B.S. degree in home economics and science. Gloria received an M.A. degree in linguistics in 1963 from the Ateneo in Manila. In addition, she studied theology, anthropology, education administration, French, and Tagalog.

Fifty years ago Gloria entered Maryknoll. On March 7, 1947, she made her First Profession at Maryknoll and her Final Vows on the same day in 1950 in Manila where she had been assigned in 1947. In the Philippines, Gloria taught grade school in Manila and Baguio and high school at Maryknoll College in Manila and Lupon. She was a high school principal in Manila from 1963-1968. She taught English and religion, worked with teachers and was Academic Coordinator. Gloria was also an instructor in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the Ateneo, a Jesuit University, and from 1974-1976 was a full-time faculty member there. The many friendships that Gloria formed in the Philippines were long lasting and spanned the miles and years to today.

Gloria returned to Maryknoll in 1968 as faculty member at Rogers College. She returned again from 1977-1980 to be Director of Education for our Congregation and later was Co-Director of Maryknoll’s Mission Renewal Program and taught English to international students at the seminary. From 1982-1987 Gloria and Sister Bridget Chapman joined the faculty of the Maryville Centre of Spirituality in South Africa. The Centre was sponsored by the Association of Women Religious to prepare local and multi-cultural Sisters for mission in Southern Africa. The program of scripture, theology, cultural anthropology, communications and other subjects was also a renewal program for African Sisters. When the Centre found it difficult to find a qualified African Sister to be director, Gloria was asked to take the position. One of the qualities she brought to the African Sisters was the facility to wait until individuals could express their feelings and ideas. An end result was a growth by the Sisters in articulation and self-confidence.

When their five-year contract was over, Gloria and Bridget, in 1989, joined our Western Region and settled in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Gloria’s work was catechesis, adult leadership, and as minister to the sick and elderly at St. Jude Mission that included middle-class white people and poor Mexican-Americans. The warm relationship that quickly developed with the people in Alamogordo.

Gloria was blessed with an attractive appearance, refined, generous, gentle spirit, a good mind, a religious-spiritual sense, a gracious disposition and manner, high ideals for herself and others, and always an openness to cooperate with requests made of her. In a long – and not so long life of 70 years – Gloria loved much and was loved by many: her family, our Maryknoll Sisters, Bridget, the peoples of the Philippines, South Africa and Alamogordo. Filipino friends located in New York visited Gloria these last few months and some have been with us yesterday and today. To members of our Western Region, all our Sisters, all family member ,and friends we thank you for being here. We also thank Gloria’s friends, Maryknoll Fathers John Rich, our celebrant, and Edward Dougherty who will lead our final prayers of blessing.

In our Christian faith that leads us to hope and to love, let us say “Alleluia” for the grace that Gloria was among us all and for the new life which is now hers. With our remembrance of Gloria and in unity of heart and prayer, let us begin our Eucharistic celebration of the Resurrection. “Alleluia!”