Sister Elizabeth Mary Gildea, CSJ
Mary was born to Elizabeth and Charles Gildea, natives of Ireland, and grew up in
Holy Name Parish in Brooklyn along with John, Pat, and her deceased brother
Charlie. She attended the parish school and St. Brendan H.S. It was in this family
that Mary’s faith life and spirituality were nurtured and the seeds of her religious
vocation were planted.
As we celebrate all that Mary accomplished in her time as a Sister of St. Joseph,
we see that there were three phases that were marked by significant ministries.
The first years were in elementary and secondary education – beginning at Our
Lady of Good Counsel, and continuing at Holy Name of Mary, Holy Family in
Flushing, St.Clare’s, Immaculate Conception in Jamaica and at a later time as a
Religion Teacher at St. Joseph HS in Brooklyn. Mary was prepared for each ofthese ministries with a Master’s degree in Education from Queen’s College and then another Master’s degree in Religion from Fordham University.
The second phase of Mary’s ministries brought her into the field of administration
as Principal at St. Pascal Baylon, St. Albans, Immaculate Conception, Jamaica, and Queen of Peace in Kew Gardens. It was at Immaculate Conception Parish where Mary found her special place for ministry. Her relationship with the parish community under the leadership of the Passionist Priests nurtured Mary in both her ministry and her own spirituality. It was from that experience that Mary decided to take another path in ministry and moved from the field of education to that of parish ministry.
This led to the third phase of Mary’s ministry – that of Director of Religious Education at Immaculate Conception Parish for the last 16 years of her active ministry. Mary’s kindness and understanding softened the challenges that were faced by children and parents in sacramental preparation programs as well as continuing religious education. No matter the difficulties, Mary was most at home in this parish and where her giftedness touched the lives of those with whom and for whom she ministered for a total of 20 years as teacher, administrator, and
parish minister. It was here that her prayer life sustained her ministry and her ministry contributed to her contemplative spirit.
One can only imagine not only what Mary accomplished because of what she did but more importantly the woman religious that she was. Her kindness, compassion, and understanding were shared throughout her life and into her retirement years at St. Joseph Convent and Maria Regina Residence. Her quiet demeanor was borne out of humility and her contemplative heart. She was in all ways what we as Sisters of St. Joseph strive to become – contemplatives in action.There was a certain aura around Mary and while she would cringe if we called her holy, we who knew her were blessed by our relationship with her.
Thank you, Mary, for being part of our lives as a sister, aunt, and great aunt, as teacher, administrator and parish minister. And most especially as a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood. May you rest in the peace you so richly deserve.
Angela Gannon, CSJ
Sister Elizabeth Mary Gildea, CSJ, the former Sister Mary Eustelle, died on July 30, 2023 in the 66th year of her religious life.