Sister M. Dominic Guidera, MM
Born: February 3, 1900
Entered: January 5, 1921
Died: January 7, 1990
Like the Wise Man of old, as the Epiphany star rose in the night sky, Sister Mary Dominic Guidera experienced a transformation. She left the boundaries of this life to enter the fullness of God. At 1:15 a.m. on January 7, 1990, death freed Sister Dominic. Her long life came to an end in the Maryknoll Nursing Home.
Anna Dorothy Guidera was the ninth of fourteen children born in New York City to John and Mary Dwyer Guidera. On February 3, 1990, Sister Dominic would have reached her 90th birthday, a fact she could tell you proudly only a day before her death.
Sister’s schooling before entrance to Maryknoll included a year and a half of high school. When she was thirteen, her sister, Lizzie, became a Sister of St. Joseph. Soon Anna, too, thought of entrance to a religious community and after some years of work for a publishing company she made an appointment with the Provincial of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Manhattan. On the way, she changed her mind! She wanted to be a missioner.
Anna entered Maryknoll on January 5, 1921, and at Reception was given the name “Sister Mary Dominic.” On April 9, 1923, Sister made her First Profession at the Motherhouse and was assigned to Hong Kong. There she taught for thirteen years at Holy Spirit School. She pronounced her Final Vows in Hong Kong in 1926. Sister’s letters tell of her delight in the people with and for whom she worked. When she was assigned to Fushun, Manchuria, in 1936 she began to care for orphaned children and do catechetical work in the nearby villages. The country atmosphere, the warmth and caring of the people impressed her greatly, and the needs of the orphaned children captured her heart.
As was true for our Sisters in the area, Sister Mary Dominic was interned at Ho Pei from December 7, 1941, until April 1942. How she felt about this, we don’t know. She didn’t write of these experiences nor of her repatriation on the M.S. Gripsholm in August. Within a month of her arrival in New York she was assigned to the Motherhouse where she began work. In 1945, she went to Bethany where she remained until 1950 when she returned to the Motherhouse to be the local bursar. In 1956 she was again assigned to Bethany, this time because of her poor health.
Though it is not well documented, we know that Sister from early times suffered from an illness which was clearly diagnosed in 1955. About this, Sister wrote to Mother Mary Columba, “I want to assure you that I am happy, contented and not worried. God is good to me, and this warning is another of His graces for which I can never be grateful enough.” In 1956, she again wrote this time to Mother Mary Coleman, “Being so restricted in activity is very difficult at times, Mother, but one thing it brings is the opportunity to pray and to think more about worthwhile things. For these opportunities, I am deeply grateful…” It is in this weakened condition that so many of us have known Sister.
Though physically weak, she was intellectually strong, an avid reader, an active thinker and a person whose critical analysis of situations often expressed in letters, could challenge, frustrate and inspire.
Sister was able to do some traveling as part of her Renewal in 1973. She visited cousins in Minnesota and Arizona much to her delight and the joy of those who cared for her. Soon, however, another illness was to add to her burdens.
When the move was made from Bethany to Maryknoll Nursing Home, Sister joined the group and the Nursing Home became her permanent home. She tried very hard to do what she could for herself and for others. It was a common occurrence to find her offering soup to a new resident or one seriously ill. She created her room into a home with some modern conveniences and was always willing to share what she had. During her life she crossed large boundaries.
In looking forward to her death, she wrote to the Central Governing Board in 1983 to request cremation. She said she had thought about this for a long time and would like it now that the Church accepted cremation as an option. Permission was given. She also asked for a simple funeral liturgy. At the end of her written request she says, “I can never be grateful enough and this is the goodness and Providence of God. When I go to Heaven Maryknoll will be my closest love and you can be sure that all members of Maryknoll will be a very close part of my intercession if I am before the good Lord in Heaven.” It is hard to imagine that she is not there after so many years of suffering.
We thank our Maryknoll Nursing Home staff and Sister’s friends for their love, care and generosity over the years.
Let us rejoice as our Sister joins her God. We welcome Maryknoll Father Edward Manning, who will celebrate with us the Liturgy of the Resurrection.