Conversation with Gerry

Sister Geresine Leffert, SSND, was received by Mother Caroline in 1887. Her memories of meeting Mother Caroline were vivid as she shared with the author in the late 1960's. Engage in this interview which took place a few years before her death in 1970. Do the ideas remembered touch your heart? Do they give a picture of Caroline, as both Mother and American foundress?


Memories of a Conversation with Sister Geresine Leffert, SSND

Sister Geresine Leffert, SSNDThe author, Sister Judith Best, SSND was visiting Sister Geresine at Villa Gesu in the late 1960's. “Gerry” as she was called was in her 90’s. She spoke with a deep voice, strong but weakened by years of teaching. She was small and frail but her eyes brightened and she was filled with visible energy when she spoke of Mother Caroline. The conversation went something like the following:

Sister Judy: “Gerry, can you describe what Mother Caroline looked like?”

Sister Gerry: “She was tall and stately (pause)… and pretty well-filled out.”

Sister Judy: “Do you remember having a conversation with her?”

Sister Gerry: “Oh yes! Before we went to the novitiate we had to talk to Mother Caroline alone, like you’d talk to your mother.”

Sister Judy: “Do you remember what you said?”

Sister Gerry: “I decided to tell Mother Caroline something no one else knew: that ever since I was a child, I could hear out of only one ear. I thought I’d tell Mother Caroline and if she wanted to send me home she could send me home before I went to the novitiate. So I told her.”

Sister Judy: “And what did she say?”

Sister Gerry: “Mary, that was my name before, Mary, you hear more with one ear than most folks with two. You’re O.K. Mother Caroline said I’m O.K!” she said with great emphasis.

Sister Judy: “Is there anything else you remember?”

Sister Gerry: “Yes, she told us that when we carry those laundry baskets up the stairs we are to rest on every landing. Candidates put those baskets down and rest on every landing.”

Sister Judy: “She sounds very understanding and human.”

Sister Gerry: “She was especially good to me as a young sister. My first mission was Louisville, Kentucky and my superior (pause)… was a little stricter. After my first year there I saw Mother Caroline and she asked how I was doing. I was sad and told her that my superior was “stricter” and she said to me: ‘Mary, I’m going to give you a good superior.’ And she sent Mother Philemon who was a good superior.”

Sister Judy: I could see that she was getting a little tired so I concluded the interview and said: “Thanks Gerry for sharing those memories with me.” And as I left her I heard her saying out loud, “And Mother Caroline said ‘I’m O.K.’ ‘I’m O.K.’”

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