The Sister/Associate relationship was established in 1972 so that individuals – lay women and men – could partner with the Sisters in responding to the Gospel in the spirit of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Over 200 Associates reside throughout the US; in 2015 we will take the opportunity to get to know a few of them.
Associate Spotlight – Virginia Gilmore
By Josh Zeller, Communications student intern
(From left) S. Grace Ann Gratsch, Associate Virginia Gilmore and Virginia’s son Frank at the June 14 Associate commitment ceremony at the Motherhouse.
Where do you currently live?
I live in Bayley Village [independent living cottages at Bayley, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity]. I moved in about two years ago with my husband, who is since deceased. I’m very happy here. I moved from Chicago, Illinois, and everybody has been open, friendly, and very good to me in Cincinnati.
Tell us a little about yourself, including your hobbies, interests, or volunteer activities.
I am 80 years old, so I’ve been retired for a good while. But I worked in the Atlanta Public Schools, and taught the third grade and kindergarten for a short time. I am trained in speech therapy, however, and I mostly worked with children as a speech pathologist. I also taught African-American children in the late 1960s, when they had just integrated the Atlanta school system.
I like to read, and I volunteer at Manna Outreach, an emergency food pantry serving those who live in and near the Price Hill neighborhood. I plan to volunteer soon at Mother Margaret Hall. I am an ex-runner, and was a hiker. I still do yoga, and I’m a nature lover. I was activities chair for Bayley Village for over a year.
How did you become acquainted with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati?
I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where there was the Sisters of Mercy, the Benedictine nuns, and the St. Joseph Sisters. I became enthralled with Catholicism, but was not a “cradle Catholic”; I didn’t convert until I turned 40. I had never heard of the Sisters of Charity until we moved here, and now my whole heart is with their mission and their charism, and the Sisters themselves – a new spiritual enrichment is going on inside me. That’s why I became an Associate. I attend Mass at the Motherhouse – it’s like my parish. I’m in a Centering Prayer group, and have been trying to take advantage of the Spirituality Center’s activities, courses, and book sharings.
When did you make your commitment as an Associate in Mission?
On June 14; I studied for a year with S. Grace Ann [Gratsch]. So, I have been an Associate for a short time, but the spiritual growth since then has been on-going, and I’m very glad I made that step.
How have some of the Sisters or your fellow Associates touched your life?
They’re friendly, open, loving, accepting. They are earthy, and have no pretensions. I am completely [in step] with their values. It is so exciting to see the three young women—Andrea [Koverman], Tracy [Kemme], and Annie [Klapheke] – here at the Motherhouse. I am still getting to know the Associates. I want to join a small group, one having both Sisters and Associates as members.
Do you see yourself touching others’ lives similarly?
I pray that I can. I’ve been given gifts; I have a passion and love within that will enable me to reach out to everyone.
In what ways do you feel you carry out the spirit of Elizabeth Seton in your daily life?
I have been enabled to bring the Lord into my daily life, to bring contemplation to everything that I do. Living alone, and living close to the Sisters, I have more time. I have three sons, and I was so busy being a mother and a teacher, and entertaining, cooking, and housekeeping. But now I am free of those responsibilities, and can concentrate on the spiritual part of my life, and I am very grateful for that.