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Sister Geraline Noonan celebrates 60 years as a Sister of Providence

The Sisters of Providence and SP Associates celebrated with Sister Geraldine Noonan her Diamond Jubilee—60 years as a Sister of Providence—with a Mass of Thanksgiving on May 20. The liturgy was offered at Providence Place by the Rev. Thomas Shea.


 

JubilarianA Worcester native, Sister Geraldine entered the SPs on July 2, 1957. Her earliest ministries were in the toddlers department at Our Lady of Providence Children’s Center, West Springfield, and as an intake worker at Holy Child Guild, Westfield. Later she worked in public relations at Mercy Hospital and United Way of Pioneer Valley.

From 1997 to 2003 Sister Geraldine was the administrator of St. Luke’s Home for elders in Springfield. Now, more than 15 years later, she still volunteers there gathering items, large and small, for the Home’s fund-raising bazaar and tag sale each year! Amidst her ministries, Sister Geraldine also served three terms on the SP Executive Council.

Asked to reflect on her ministerial life of both yesterday and today, she replies, “My focus and my priority is on elders, ecumenism, and the environment.”

Her interest in elders emerged in the 1980s when she earned a certificate in gerontology at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Ind., prior to serving as coordinator of the SP retirement program. She later directed the SP Life Development Office, and then authored a research document commissioned by the Worcester Diocese’s Retirement Collaborative Planning Committee on living arrangements for senior women religious.

Next she ministered in spiritual care at Beaven Kelly Home, Holyoke, before starting as administrator of St. Luke’s Home. She says, “While at St. Luke’s I worked with Ombudsmen so knew their value and support to elders, and to the staff caring for them. I knew that becoming an Ombudsman myself, once I left St. Luke’s, would allow me to continue my ministry to elders.” Now she serves as an Ombudsman in a local nursing home as part of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs through Greater Springfield Senior Services.

Pursuing new direction
Ecumenism captured Sister Geraldine’s attention in 1980 when she became Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese of Springfield. Increased exposure to people of faiths other than her own Roman Catholic tradition convinced her, she says, “that the people of God are blessed in all faith traditions and should be respected as such.”

Her focus on the environment was nurtured by the SPs’ 1993 Directional Statement calling the Sisters to take action to care for Earth. In 2004 she immersed herself in an earth literacy program and took part in a holistic program on humans’ oneness with the universe.

In 2005 she participated in research before authoring an extensive bioregional study for Southwick, Massachusetts’ Conservation Committee. A copy of that study is available through the Southwick Library. And she has spent years and countless hours doing early morning volunteer gardening at Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield.

Sister Geraldine earned an Associate degree in medical secretarial work from Cardinal Cushing College, Boston, and a Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy from Newton College of the Sacred Heart, Newton.

 

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