Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sister Cecilia

Sister Cecilia is one in from the right- in the next to top row

  Sister Cecilia Vincent of the Sisters of St. Joseph, started life as Mary Esther Gunn.  She was born in Rochester, New York on March 30, 1904.  Her father Francis Gunn was a native of County Kerry, and was the brother of my great, great grandmother Mary Gunn Power, and that perennial troublemaker my 3x great Uncle George Gunn.  Sorta boggles the mind that George could be related to a nun.

     Mary Esther's mother was Elizabeth Bunce, also a native of County Kerry.  While Francis Gunn was from Ballygologue, Elizabeth Bunce was from Tarbert, just a few miles away so perhaps they had known each other in Ireland.  She and Francis were married in the spring of 1893 at St. Mary's RC Church in Rochester, and their first child, John Joseph Gunn was born the following spring.  His birth was followed by that of sons  Francis Jr., William and Edward.  Mary was born next, then four more boys, Leo, Walter, Earl and George.

     Mary Esther entered the convent in September of 1923 at the age of 19.  She took her first vows in 1925, and her final profession on August 31, 1928.  The Sisters of St. Joseph are a teaching order, and that was Sister Cecilia's profession, first at Corpus Christi School, then at Holy Rosary School, both in Rochester.

     Sister Cecilia was not fated to live a long life, she was stricken with heart disease in 1927, but continued teaching until 1946 when at age 42, she was forced by ill health to retire to the Motherhouse in Pittsford, New York.  She entered upon  an Easter Retreat on March 29th 1948, and on April 1st she passed away in her sleep.  Her parents were gone by that time, but seven of her brothers survived her, the eighth, John Joseph who was also the oldest, had predeceased her.

    I was generously sent the above picture, along with several paper copies giving the dates and places of Sister Cecilia's receiving the Sacraments, her brother's addresses, (with some of their death dates penciled in), and her obituary after I contacted the SSJ Archives requesting information about my cousin.  I was also given the page from the Community Annals, a kind of newspaper for the Sisters, which contained the death notice for Sister Cecilia.  Reading down the page were other Sisters who had passed--Sisters Kevany, Egan, Whalen, a notice of Father Duffy's promotion in rank, and word that Father Flanagan of Boy's Town had passed.  Reads like an Irish directory don't you think?


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