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Benedictine Sister Kathleen Gorman accepts God's gift

Benedictine Sister Kathleen Gorman accepts God's gift - (03-01-2024)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Kathleen Gorman died Dec. 30, 2023.

She was born Feb. 27,1928, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the fourth of eight children of Aloysius and Anna (Miller) Gorman. Due to Kathleen’s frailty as an infant, the family moved to Springfield Gardens on Long Island, shortly after her birth so that she could benefit from the country air. They moved back to Brooklyn when she was 6 years old.

Kathleen remembered the camaraderie among the eight siblings of five girls and three boys when growing up.

“We were a very close family and made a lot of our own entertainment,” she said. “We were given great freedom of the outdoors and spent a lot of time walking to places. I recall heading to the shore where we watched the big ships come into dock.”

Kathleen’s father was a postal worker and came home for lunch and by mid-afternoon each day, so both parents were usually at home. They enjoyed going into Manhattan to shop, to visit museums, to see movies and to go to the theater. They liked to visit Coney Island and play on the beach. Looking back, Kathleen understood how hard her parents worked to keep the family happy during the Depression. “Children do not know they are poor,” she once said. “I remember sitting at the dinner table one night, and I heard my mother’s stomach make a noise and wondered what it was. She was hungry while the rest of us were eating.”

Kathleen attended Catholic grade schools and went to public high school. As a teenager, she worked in a bakery, as a clerk in a lawyer’s office and for the Veterans Administration. She planned to attend college, but God called her to religious life. She was drawn to a contemplative vocation and wrote to 25 different communities. She visited Carmelites, Visitandines and other communities in Brooklyn. She was sure of what she wanted when she received the literature from the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde, Missouri. After Kathleen’s high school graduation in February 1946, her parents joined her in traveling by train to Clyde.

“I was the only religious one in my family,” she said. “My parents accepted my decision and were always supportive of me. As time went on, they became quite proud to have a daughter in religious life.”

Kathleen made her first monastic profession on Sept. 1, 1947, and was given the name Sister Mary Aloysia. She made final monastic profession on Oct. 5, 1952. She received the Consecration of Virgins on May 11, 1962. She eventually reverted to her birth name, Sister Kathleen.

Sister Kathleen spent many years working in the correspondence department, which she always enjoyed. She also served on the general council in the 1970s. Over the years, she was novice director for five years, Tucson archivist and pastoral minister of the health care facility in St. Louis. She took night classes for several years and eventually earned a college degree in 1981. She served in the monasteries in Clyde, San Diego (where she was prioress); Tucson, Arizona; St. Louis; Sand Springs, Oklahoma; and Dayton, Wyoming. She especially enjoyed celebrating her Golden Jubilee in Dayton among what she lovingly referred to as the “Cathedral of the Cottonwoods.”

Sister Kathleen’s time spent at Osage monastery in Sand Springs was joyful due to the opportunity to spend time with many people from around the world who sought silence and solitude in the Forest of Peace.

“The conversations visitors shared with us were humbling, and I became more and more aware of how seriously people were seeking the ‘one thing necessary,’ especially through contemplative prayer.” She added, “I love everything about monastic life. It is my natural environment of prayer, work and community and all its challenges. Community life is the wheel at which the potter makes us to be what God wants us to be. We will not be disappointed in our hope. I have been blessed in countless ways and will forever be grateful to all I met and to those with whom I lived.”

Sister Kathleen enjoyed taking walks, crocheting, listening to music and sharing a meal with friends. She was a voracious reader; reading was a source of deepening her appreciation of monastic life. She read the Fathers of the Church and the journal writings of monastic authors with great fidelity. As her health gradually failed, she was still doing this with great interest. She was most grateful, she once said, for the “gift of faith, which opens up so many areas of life that would otherwise be closed to me: incarnation in all aspects of existence.”

Sister Kathleen transferred to Our Lady of Rickenbach, the congregation’s health care facility, in 2017. There she enjoyed the freedom from responsibility and “not pushing for a deadline, or you’re not having to get to the next job, but you can read or go outside, relax, watch TV, anything.” 

When she grew weaker these past weeks, Sister Kathleen declined further treatment. She said, “God is offering me a gift and I don’t want to refuse it.” Several Sisters had been with her when she handed her soul over to God in the early morning hours of Dec. 30.

She is survived by her monastic family, nieces, nephews and many friends. Her funeral liturgy and burial at the Benedictine Sisters’ Adoration Chapel and Mount Calvary Cemetery were held on Jan. 3, 2024.