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Feature Articles

Continuing to Serve: S. Mary Jo Gasdorf
By Katie Drinkuth, Communications summer intern


S. Mary Jo Gasdorf gives several hours each week to the Motherhouse Gift Shop, one of her many volunteer ministries.

“I don’t know if I ever did retire from active ministry,” says Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, Mary Jo Gasdorf, as she speaks about her varied volunteer ministries. Ever since she retired six years ago at age 70 as director of The Women’s Connection in Price Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio), Sister has used her God-given gifts to continue to make relationships with others and to listen with her heart.

Although S. Mary Jo’s former ministry doesn’t directly correlate with her current volunteer ministries, they are certainly connected in many meaningful ways. She currently volunteers at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Gift Shop and Front Desk, is a member of the Seton High School Board, serves as a vigil minister, and accompanies Sisters to the emergency room whenever the need arises. Despite devoting much of her time to these ministries, S. Mary Jo said, “I don’t know where all the hours go, but they go by quickly.”

S. Mary Jo spends most of her time ministering at the Motherhouse Gift Shop, and says she absolutely loves volunteering there with a group of five other Sisters. “It is such a fun place to be,” she says. It is a place where Sisters listen to one another and tell stories. She finds her volunteer ministries to be about making meaningful relationships with others and supporting each other. Similarly, volunteering at the Front Desk offers her the opportunity to greet new faces who walk through the door.

Being a Setonian, S. Mary Jo was asked to serve on the Board of Seton High School in Cincinnati for a second time, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity, saying, “I believe in education, especially education for women.”

Since moving to the Motherhouse in 2016, Sister has been volunteering to serve as a Sister-companion to those who making a trip to the emergency room. This is a very important and critical ministry for S. Mary Jo, and one that she is very grateful to still be able to do. She says she does this to not only help Sisters “keep their cool” in the situation, but to also “make peace with their experience, which can be very traumatic.”

As a vigil minister, S. Mary Jo understands the importance of walking with a Sister during this transition, though it can be very difficult for S. Mary Jo and the many other Sisters and Associates who partake in it. Sitting with a Sister who is dying, whether that is holding their hand, or just simply being there for them in that time, is something truly special and treasured for each vigil minister.

When asked how her volunteer ministries connect to her former active ministries, S. Mary Jo said that listening to others with your heart has been essential to both. She said that the mission of the Sisters of Charity is having a loving trust that shapes all relationships, and she said, “I think everything I do as a volunteer is part of that.” With each volunteer experience, S. Mary Jo is able to develop new relationships, which is, “A wonderful opportunity to witness to who we are. We are a welcoming community and we are very happy,” she says.

Volunteering strengthens her relationship with God because of the people she is able to interact with every day. Simply being present to others is a gift that she aims to utilize in every ministry she is a part of.

Volunteering strengthens her relationship with God because of the people she is able to interact with every day. Simply being present to others is a gift that she aims to utilize in every ministry she is a part of.