Marie Tarcisius McGlynn was born on January 3, 1920, the fourth child in a family of three girls and two boys born to Alfred and Ethel (née Ferrario) McGlynn. She would recall the joys of a “happy, carefree childhood” with siblings and friends, which included cricket matches, bonfires on “cracker night”, and frequent visits to North Steyne beach.
Marie’s early education began and was completed at Manly. Enrolled at St Mary’s Primary School, she remembered with affection particular sisters from these years – Sisters Fiacre Murphy, Vincentia McGrath, Virgilius Scott, Cecily Marlborough.
In 1933, she began her secondary education at the newly opened Stella Maris College from where she graduated in 1936 having gained both a University and a Teachers’ College Scholarship, which gave her four years at University but required a bond to teach for five years in State High Schools.
At University she would meet fellow students Mary Hall (later Sister Mary Anselm) from St Brigid’s College Marrickville and Marcia McMahon (later Sister Mary Matthew) from Rosebank College. In 1940, Marie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Diploma of Education.
There followed appointments to State High Schools in Kandos, Lithgow, Cook’s Hill, Newcastle, and Yass (where she also instructed air force cadets in mathematics in the evening).
Sometime in 1943, Marie had a chance meeting in a Sydney suburban train with Marcia McMahon who told her she was entering the novitiate of the Good Samaritan Sisters in July. This meeting revived Marie’s earlier desire to respond to God’s call to the religious life. On July 4, 1944, Marie also joined the novitiate where she began preparation for a new phase of her life and was now known as Sister Mary Gerard.
After her profession of vows on January 6, 1947, Sister Mary Gerard was immediately back into the classroom, firstly at St Scholastica’s College where she taught for 13 years. This was at a time when secondary schools were called upon to provide science courses in their curricula and, at St Scholastica’s, this responsibility fell largely on Gerard’s shoulders. She was instrumental in having the Superior General at the time appoint two younger sisters to undertake full-time study of science at Sydney University.
In her transfer in 1960 to Wollongong, the challenge was large class enrolments due to post-war immigration, but here she ministered for 12 years, being also principal for seven of those years.
After three years spent back at St Scholastica’s, Gerard was transferred to her alma mater, Stella Maris College in 1975. Not surprisingly, she would speak of nine happy years spent there, for most of those years filling the role of deputy principal. It was at this time also that she was elected to the Council of the Superior and filled this role from 1975 to 1981.
From this time, while reverting to her baptismal name, Marie, she was loathe to relinquish the religious name of Gerard and so retained the title of Sister Marie Gerard until her death.
The Congregation is also grateful to Marie Gerard for her work in translating the Rules of Polding and associated documents from the Italian into English.
At the end of 1983, Marie Gerard completed her long ministry in the classroom. After a period of renewal and study at the United Faculty of Theology, Melbourne, Marie Gerard returned to St Scholastica’s to take up the role of Congregational Archivist. To prepare herself for this role she completed the Graduate Diploma Course in Information Management/Archives Administration with the University of New South Wales.
For the following 20 years, Marie Gerard devoted her energies to the management of an ever-expanding volume of material that constituted the history of the Congregation and its members.
Marie Gerard was a founding member of the Association of Archivists of Religious Institutes. She was also a member of the Australian Society of Archivists and was highly respected as an archivist by both groups. Sister Marie Gerard was the first official archivist of the Congregation.
Marie Gerard’s latter years have been spent at St Scholastica’s Convent where she contributed to the daily life of the community. Marie Gerard moved to Eastwood in April 2012 as her health began to deteriorate and it was here at St Catherine’s that she died peacefully on Tuesday March 25.