I am writing this on December 15th, the anniversary of her death. I met Sister Marie Gaffney when I was 15 years old. I came from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to take part in the Summer School of Catholic Action held each July at the Motherhouse. Marie was a newly professed Sister. She worked with the Summer School to put on a play about Our Lady of Guadalupe. The point was more to learn how to put on a play as part of working with children. Marie was a great example.
Later, once I entered the Community, I got to know her in a different light. She was a wonderful mentor and a great support as I grew as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity. Marie was a social worker, dedicated to women’s issues and issues related to the elderly. We had many conversations about what was then called “the feminization of poverty”. Marie was so caring and compassionate. She was willing to get involved both locally and nationally and was awarded for her efforts.
Later when serving with her on our General Council I saw yet another side of Marie. She was able to see the larger picture when dealing with individual Sisters and with issues that touched on our future as a congregation. Through many trying moments she was able to hold steady and see beyond the “now.”
I will always be grateful for the experience of sharing in this part of her life. We often traveled together, made retreats together, shared our love of sports, and our love of reading. In fact we were on retreat together when the health problem that would take her life within four months became evident. Marie suffered without complaining and continued to be concerned about the community from her place as General Custodian. She endured moments when the crisis seemed to be over, only to have another relapse. At her death, the community lost a great leader and I lost a dear friend. May she rest in peace.