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In Memory

Sister Catherine Ann Gilvary, IHM

July 17, 1936 – January 16, 2024

Sister Catherine Ann Gilvary

Sister Catherine Ann Gilvary, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. St. Martin) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on July 17, 1936, in Pittston, PA. She was the daughter of the late Joseph A. and Mary Gilroy Gilvary. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1954, and made her temporary profession of vows on August 3, 1957, and her final profession of vows on August 3, 1960. Sister Catherine Ann received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, a Master of Science degree in counselor education, and a Master of Science degree in religious education, all from Marywood College.

Sister Catherine Ann served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Paul Elementary School in New Bern, NC, from 1957 to 1963; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School in Rocky Mount, NC, from 1963 to 1966; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1966 to 1968; and St. Rita Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1968 to 1974.

Sister served as guidance counselor at St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, DE, from 1974 to 1976. Sister Catherine Ann also served at Marywood College in Scranton, PA, as dean of students from 1976 to 1981, and as vice-president of student affairs from 1981 to 1989. She was a core group member at Our Lady of the Lake Spiritual Renewal Center in Verona, NJ, from 1989 to 1990, and a core group member at the IHM Spiritual Renewal Center in Cresco, PA, from 1990 to 1994. From 1994 to 2011 Sister was the director of campus ministry at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. She was the director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Scranton, from 2011 to 2012. From 2013 to 2015, she was a health and wellness representative for the IHM Congregation in Scranton, PA.

From 2016 until the time of her death, Sister Catherine Ann served on the support staff at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA.  

She was preceded in death by three brothers, Martin, John, and Patrick Joseph, and three sisters, JoAnn Lyons, Ellen Marie Gilhooley, and Mary Gloria Gilvary.

Sister Catherine Ann is survived by a sister and brother-in-law, Pauline and Jack Craig of Harrisburg, PA; nieces and nephews; and grandnieces and grandnephews.  She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Thursday, January 25, at 10:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 1512 University Avenue in Dunmore, PA. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Thursday, January 25, between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. A prayer service will be held at 9:00 a.m. Interment will follow Mass on Thursday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. 

Prayer of Remembrance and Funeral Mass 


Eulogy

Written by Joe GIlvary (nephew), Delivered by Carla Gilhooley

We’re saying a kind of goodbye to Sister Katie today, very possibly one of many we’ll say whenever we miss her compassion and her calm wisdom. In this world so online, we heard in the past week from people all over the country saying goodbyes and telling us about the ways that knowing Sister made their lives better. Relatives like her niece, Eileen, who said that Sister Katie counseled her through one of the darkest times of her life. Her niece Colleen wrote that she “was such a light in our large family that will be sorely missed!”

Coworkers, too, wrote of the blessing she was in their lives. Dawn Burch wrote that Sister “was most beautiful, kind and fun person I’ve ever met.” Sue Sanders told us Sister Katie was “[S]uch a supportive, kind, energetic and loving person. She was such a gift to many in our community after 9/11 when we lost alums and a beloved trustee. Sr. Catherine and others organized an interfaith service that helped us all deal with this tragedy. She was a “once in a lifetime” colleague.”

Sister knew she was nearing the end of her time in this life. She had some messages of her own she wanted us to note, things that she told her niece Shelley. She wanted all of us to know that she appreciated us allowing her to be part of our lives. She enjoyed watching her nieces and nephews grow up. And her best friend was her own sister, “Pauline” to Sister Katie and “Aunt Pauline” or “AP” to many of us.

Sister left us some more messages, too. Notice in the readings she selected we heard “Fear not.” Very fitting, don’t you think? A few years ago, maybe fifty-few years ago, Sister Katie was visiting at our house in Avoca when I told her about my new pet, a lizard. She asked where he was, and I answered, “Right behind you..”

In her haste to ensure my pet had sufficient breathing room, Sister nearly tipped over the kitchen table. 🙂 And THAT was the only time I ever saw Sister Catherine Ann respond to anything with alarm.

Where does that kind of calm serenity come from? Sister tells us, again in her choice of these readings. It comes from Love.

In the first reading, from Isaiah, we heard how God, our Creator, loves us. That is who we are. Sister Katie knew herself to be loved by God. She chose Love, with all that means, the big, life-long choice to live as a Bride of Christ, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the seemingly smaller, but truly vital yearly, monthly, daily, even moment-to-moment acts to choose Love, to act out of Love.

We heard about that again in the second reading, from St. Peter’s letter. There Sister tells us, through the Saint’s words that she chose for us to hear today, “Let your love for one another be intense.”

Think about that. Sister Katie’s life revolved around the Love of God and the Love for God. It defined her and was the impetus for how she chose to live. Again from St. Peter: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another…” Sister knew in her heart and soul that she received God’s Love, and she whole-heartedly, through her lifetime, found ways to share that Love, ways that would nurture others and lead us to health and growth, as she grew within God’s Love.

We can do likewise. She would want each of us to do and to be our best. She encouraged us always to share the gifts we receive, most especially the gifts we receive through the grace of God.

So, yes, we are saying a kind of goodbye here today. But Sister Katie leaves us with a loving challenge, just as she challenged us in the times we spent together in this life.

Just a few verses deeper in Isaiah 43 we read “Is sibhse Mo chuidse finnéithe — briathar an Tiarna.” (Sister, you knew you wouldn’t get past this crowd without some Irish!) In English “You are my witnesses, says the Lord.”

Sister Katie spent her time here witnessing to Love. In these readings she chose for today, we hear about the importance of Love. Each time we face that challenge, in our choices big and small, to witness as she did to Love, we are with her again, letting the Love that she witnessed spread through the years after the goodbyes today. And the gift she received, that she passed to us, will continue to spread and grow, for Love shared will multiply, not divide.

Thank you, Sister, for showing us Capital ‘L’ Love. May your faithful soul rest in joyful Love at the right hand of God. Ar dheis Dé go raibh d’anam dílis in aoibhneas grá.

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