Sister M. Gabriella Doran, CSC (1922 -2015)
In the 75 years Sister Gabriella served the people of God as a Sister of the Holy Cross, she embraced each one of her assigned ministries with enthusiasm and zeal. Whether it was as a classroom teacher, principal, social worker, advocate for the elderly, health care coordinator or volunteer, she became totally involved in meeting the needs and challenges of each role. It was never enough to do only what was expected. Sister Gabriella extended herself to go beyond the demands of the position and reached out to others with whom she worked. During her 30-plus years as an elementary school teacher in the schools of the Midwest, she used every opportunity to help not only the students but also the parents and others involved with the school and its activities. When she was changed from one mission to the next, she left behind many friends and associates who remained loyal to her for years.
In 1976 Sister Gabriella began a new type of ministry. She assisted Father Louis Putz, CSC, in establishing Harvest House in the South Bend-Mishawaka area. Father Putz had established these groups all across the country, and Sister Gabriella was enthusiastic to help the program get started locally. The program is active today at St. Adalbert Parish in South Bend, Indiana, and its purpose has remained the same: “The seniors in Harvest House are a lively group of Catholics who rejoice in the God-given gift of dear friendship …. If you are looking for a place to belong, as well as a place where God can use your gifts, then Harvest House is the place for you!”
Working with these energetic senior citizens sparked in Sister Gabriella a real desire to continue working as an advocate for the elderly, so it was a natural transition for her to spend the next five years as a caseworker in R.E.A.L. Services (Resources for Enriching Adult Living). Sister Gabriella then moved to related services in health care as nursing home director of pastoral services at St. John’s Medical Center in Anderson, Indiana, before taking that same position at Saint Joseph’s Care Center in South Bend for the next 13 years. Her retirement from that position sparked a farewell that reflected the appreciation and love of her fellow workers. Never to rest on her laurels, Sister Gabriella became an avid member of the congregation’s vocation outreach team, pouring her energy into one of her favorite causes. She contacted numerous local parishes and urged them to form vocation committees that would identify and promote vocations. This zeal, for which Sister Gabriella was valued, was typical of her pursuit of what she considered a worthy cause.
From 2002 until her death, Sister Gabriella worked to gain recognition of the service of the Sisters of the Holy Cross at St. Columba School and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Cairo, Illinois. She was sad to see the sisters withdrawn from the school in 1963 where she had been principal for 13 years. The school initially was established as a mission to serve the African-American children in the area, but the state ordered the school to integrate, removing the aspect of special ministry to the poor. Saint Mary’s Hospital was established in 1867 and remained staffed by Holy Cross until 1973 when it was sold. This lack of recognition became Sister Gabriella’s and numerous parishioners’ burning cause and together they launched a campaign to attempt to gain recognition for the years of work of the Sisters of the Holy Cross among the people of Cairo.