"They whom we love and lose

are no longer where they were before,

they are now wherever we are."

~ St. John Chrysostom

Entries in 2013 (8)


Sister Alma Rose Gaffney (Mary Ellen) 

April 24, 1923 - December 23, 2013

One of the promises from the prophet Isaiah this Christmas season is that the eyes of the blind shall see and the deaf shall hear(Isaiah 35:4). On December 23 at 11:00 pm Sister Alma Rose Gaffney (Mary Ellen Gaffney) received the fullness of this promise.  Sister Alma Rose was 89 years old and had celebrated 69 years of religious profession.

Sister Alma Rose was teacher, scholar, scientist, educator, gerontologist, compassionate minister to the elderly and contemplative.

Her earliest ministries in the community were in elementary followed by secondary education at HNHS, Saint Andrew, Saint Monica, Ramona and Marin Catholic. During her studies in the 1960’s at both Stanford and Notre Dame Sister Alma Rose was on the Holy Names University faculty and where she also served as vice-president for 5 years.

In 1976 her life work shifted as she received her Gerontological Certification from USC. Sister Alma Rose’s ministry with the aging/elderly spanned more than 20 years in Contra Costa Country, Saint Monica (Saint Monica) and in Los Angeles. Her advocacy, writing, and compassion served as a precursor to the ministries for the elderly today.

During her 14 years at the Convent of the Holy Names, she went to the local hearing and blind center and spent time reading, writing and reflecting on the Scriptures. 


Sister Catherine Irene Thoeni (Catherine Jeanne)

May 13, 1922–November 13, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Sally Slyngstad

It is both a privilege and a challenge to speak of the amazing life of our Sister Catherine Irene. Born on May 13, 1922 to John Thoeni and Catherine Mabel Culver, she was called by many names in her lifetime – Catherine Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeannie, Sister Catherine Irene, Aunt Jeanne, CI, Kitty Irene, Kitty, AJ, and perhaps more.

Sister Catherine Irene’s dad was born in Switzerland and her mom was a fifth generation Californian, born in Benicia. She was the oldest of the Thoeni children, followed by David and Margie. She describes her childhood as “living a life filled with love from our parents, family and friends.” The family first lived on 28th Avenue in Oakland and later in Alameda where her father went into partnership in a bakery there. Their home on Southwood Drive played an important role in family life for a very long time. Sister Catherine Irene attended St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School in Oakland.

Relationships were a hallmark of Sister Catherine Irene’s life. Relationships with family, friends, our Sisters, her colleagues, the people she served, as well as relationships with beauty, music, literature, the environment and most importantly, with her God.

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Sister Francis Paul Peterson (Gloria Anne)

December 3, 1930-August 29, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Elizabeth Davis

The full measure of the person is not to be found in the person herself but in the new colors and textures that come to life in other people because of her. We have all encountered people in our lives that have made a difference. Some come into our lives and it is not until they have moved on that we know that we have been touched in some way. Though many have passed through our lives, we take time today to remember, to celebrate, and even discover blessings that have come through the life Sister Francis Paul.

It can be difficult to capture the grace and spirit of any person—especially one who held her inner most thoughts close, who focused on others, sharing little of herself and who went about doing good in her own dedicated and quiet manner. Capturing the person of Sister Francis Paul is like chasing the seeds of the dandelion after making the wish and blowing away the seeds wrapped in fluff.

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Sister Helen Walsh (Sister Mary Concilia)

October 22, 1919 - July 27, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Peggy Kinzie

Our Sister Helen Walsh was 93 years young when she was called home to God. She led a life of beautiful simplicity, gentleness and loving service mixed with a strong determination. 

Reflecting on her childhood, I quote from Sister Helen’s biography: “When each of us was baptized, we received a very special gift, the gift of faith. This gift of faith enables us to see beyond the vicissitudes and joys of life to a place of unending happiness. Our parents taught us the difference between right and wrong and, by their example, showed us what it meant to be followers of Christ. They kept the light of faith alive in our hearts.

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Sister Nancy Teskey (Sister Mary Julianne)

October 29, 1942-July 12, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Carol Sellman

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

As Sister Maureen Hester noted in her introduction of Sister Nancy when she received the 1999 Faculty Award from the Holy Names University Alumni Association, these lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, Pied Beauty, remind us of the wonder of God embodied in Sister Nancy.

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