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Sister Mary Geralyn Stenger, SND (Patricia Ann Stenger); December 7, 1937-May 5, 2024

In Loving Memory: Sister Mary Geralyn Stenger, SND

Born in University Heights, Ohio on December 27, 1937, Patricia Ann was the oldest child of Harry and Geraldine (Morrison) Stenger. She and her three brothers attended Gesu Parish School. Early on, Patricia began to consider her future.  “The seeds of a religious vocation were planted in my heart,” she wrote in her autobiography. She credits her 4th grade teacher Sister Mary St. Andrew and Sister Mary Teresita, who taught her in 6th and 7th grade, with helping her to discern and accept God’s call. At Beaumont School for Girls, her high school interests included Glee Club, Library Club, Mission Club, and the Sodality. In 1954, the family grieved the death of Mrs. Stenger.  Patricia, age 17, managed her studies and took on new responsibilities of caring for her young brothers. In 1956, Mr. Stenger married Mary Walsh. Patricia entered the Sisters of Notre Dame as a postulant on September 8 of that year. At investment, she chose the name Sister Mary Geralyn, inspired by St. Gerard Magella’s great love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Over the next several years, the family joyfully welcomed two girls and a boy. Sister Mary Geralyn cherished wonderful times spent with family and friends. “They nourished my spirituality,” she wrote in her autobiography. Her desire to see God in all people and in creation shaped her life in community and in ministry.  With a bachelor’s degree from St. John College, Cleveland, and a master of arts degree from John Carroll University, Sister Mary Geralyn taught intermediate and junior high students for 26 years. In Cleveland, she ministered at St. Benedict, St. Boniface, St. Joseph Franciscan, St. Michael, and Our Lady of Lourdes; she also taught at St. Aloysius, East Liverpool; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Austintown, and Notre Dame Elementary School in Chardon. Assignments outside of Ohio included St. Agnes School in Arlington, Virginia, and St. Mary Magdalen School in Maitland, Florida. She served in several parishes as Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and teacher/coordinator of the Parish School of Religion.

After retiring from teaching in 1986, Sister Mary Geralyn ministered in the Community Office and Finance Office for 24 years. Precise and organized, she worked with budgets, supervised accounts, and was a committee member for the Barbecue/Boutique and the Mission & Ministry Fund. For 10 years she drove sisters to their appointments. Her talent for crochet yielded a supply of blankets and baby booties for the Boutique and Gallery, along with whimsical stuffed animals of every kind. Children loved the bright colors she chose for her creative menagerie: teddy bears, cats, dogs, and even elephants, turtles, and hippos. Prize ribbons from the Geauga County Fair attest to her skill.

“Everything mirrors and reveals the face of the Creator,” she wrote in explaining her chapel tile. “The California redwood, the shamrock, the tiniest shell…can draw one closer to God and the kingdom of God.” The frog was a favorite, reminding her to Fully Rely On God. She was a cancer survivor and dealt with chronic health issues, aware of her need for healing as she began each day anew. The suffering of the past months turned her journey home toward heaven. May she rejoice in the ever-new revelation of God’s abundant life and endless love.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 10, at the Sisters of Notre Dame Center. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:15. Mass will be live-streamed.

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