Sister Geraldine Gajniak, 1921-2010

 Born October 24, 1919, Chicago, IllinoisEntered Sacred Heart Monastery, Lisle, Illinois, September 8. 1937
Received habit, June 6, 1938
First Profession, June 10, 1939
Transferred vows to Our Lady of Sorrows Priory, Oak Forest, Illinois, July 1. 1951
Transferred vows to St. Walburg Monastery, May 15, 1974
Died April 24, 2010

 

Sister Geraldine Gajniak, OSB was born on October 24, 1919 to Charles and Anna Bugajsky Gajniak and named Helen Therese. Both parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia. Helen was one of six children, three girls and three boys, two of whom were twins. Her sister Anne Cook and brother John survive her.

On September 8, 1937 Helen became a postulant at Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, Illinois and a novice, Sister Geraldine, on June 6, 1938. First monastic profession followed on June 10, 1939 and perpetual profession on August 15, 1942. From 1939 until 1951 Sr. Geraldine taught elementary grades in areas of Illinois and Wisconsin. In 1951 the sisters established a new foundation, Our Lady of Sorrows Convent, in Oak Forest, IL; Sr. Geraldine participated in this new venture. Here also she taught in elementary schools until 1959. At this time she became involved in administrative duties, serving as secretary, director of postulants and novices, subprioress and then as prioress in 1966. During these years Sr. Geraldine gained an M.A. in Library Science from Rosary College in Chicago.

In the late sixties the Federation of St. Scholastica began an exchange program. Sr. Geraldine applied to St. Walburg Monastery and came here in June, 1969. Often she had expressed interest in serving the sick. During this time she worked in the monastery infirmary and at Madonna Manor. In 1971 Sr. Geraldine applied for a permanent transfer to St. Walburg Monastery which became effective in 1974. During the three years of discernment she earned an LPN certificate from St. Francis School of Nursing in Cincinnati. Well prepared and happy in her new ministry, she served as night nurse at Madonna Manor. After 1995 she was “nurse on call” at the Manor, visiting residents in the cottages. Sr. Geraldine assisted at the Manor Flea Market where she made many friends, and later at the Diocesan Childrens’ Home Sale.

Sr. Geraldine was committed to prayer, service and community activities, whether in exercise sessions, oblate meetings or prayer with individual sisters.

Earlier this year Sr. Geraldine was diagnosed with cancer. She was patient in her illness. Her declining condition was obvious. Many of her good friends from the area visited her these last days. Death came almost too quickly on April 24, 2010 as the community was about to gather for Evening Prayer.

Sr. Geraldine is survived by her Benedictine community, a sister, Anne Cook of Chicago, a brother, John, of Alsip, IL and many nieces and nephews.