Sister Mary Gabriel Donnelly, MM

Born: February 13, 1890
Entered: March 18, 1920
Died: October 26, 1975

Sister Mary Gabriel Donnelly died at Bethany on Sunday, October 26th about 10:30 p.m. She died peacefully and the smile on her face tells us, with joyful eagerness.

Sister Mary Gabriel was born in County Galway, Ireland, on February 13, 1890, and entered Maryknoll in 1920 from Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the time she was receptionist-housekeeper for a doctor. Interest in Maryknoll had been sparked by articles in The Field Afar magazine. She was professed in 1922 and assigned to the Japanese Mission in Seattle where she made her Final Vows three years later.

As we recalled her life in Maryknoll, we realized that here was one of our “valiant women” whose total service of her sisters and brothers in Maryknoll, enabled them to be of service to others in distant lands.

She worked for about four years at the Los Angeles home for Japanese children and loved them dearly. They responded by running to her for comfort and consolation when they were being corrected. She also served at the major seminary at the Center as well as at the minor seminaries at Los Altos and the Venard and at the Motherhouse for a total of 40 years.

“She was a hard worker, steady, and dependable.” “She was a lady!” “She had an Irish wit and humor which chased homesickness and self-pity away. These are some of the remarks that were made as we talked about her presence among us. We may sum it up by saying that she performed the ordinary, day to day, and sometimes weary tasks which fostered the growth and development of our Community. She is one of our “unsung heroines” who knew and lived the name “missioner.” Let us joyfully lift our hearts to God, our Father in praise and thanksgiving for the gift of Sister Gabriel. As we pray for her at the celebration of the Eucharist and reflect on her self-gift by the daily, ordinary use of the human gifts God had given her, may we renew our gift of self by deeds which speak louder than words in thanksgiving for this privilege of being part of something greater than ourselves.