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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Remembering Sr. Gertrude Foley

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of Sr. Gertrude Foley. Sr. Gert was an unwavering supporter and friend of IPI and the VLCFF for over 20 years, where she assisted as a course designer and facilitator. Drawn to the specialties of Church history and ecclesiology, Sr. Gert left lasting impressions on the hundreds of students she guided through the years as a knowledgeable, insightful and inspiring source of wisdom.

Sr. Gert had many friends here at IPI and beyond. We have gathered several statements from those lucky enough to have worked with her.

One of her great friends, Bro. Tom Giardino, Assistant for Special Projects at UD, recalled Sr. Gert’s first approach to the VLCFF and how she fully embraced this new method of teaching Church.

“By life commitment, Sr. Gertrude was a Sister of Charity, by avocation she was a teacher. And she always wanted to be both. She achieved her aims. When she first heard of the VLCFF, she was a bit hesitant about the efficacy of online learning. Once she tried it as a facilitator, she was hooked. She soon saw that her skills as a teacher easily transferred from in-person to online learning and she came to appreciate her students as serious learners. She was committed to the Church and to the vital role of the laity in the Church and she saw this mode as a way of continuing her zeal for educating towards the Good News.”

Sr. Gert was always known for being a source of warmth to all she interacted with. Administrative Assistant Margee McCrate remembers that no matter the occasion, Sr. Gert was welcoming.

“Sr. Gertrude (Sr. Gert) Foley was a favorite of mine. Although she was a facilitator long before I began working with the VLCFF, Sr. Gert was as welcoming as a bright, new day. 

Whenever I emailed her, whether it was to remind her of an upcoming facilitation of a course, a request for assistance with a student’s concern or a need for a course resource, no matter what, her replies were always expedient and most heartwarming. Her physical life has been well lived, and I rest assured that her eternal life will be glorious.”

Our director, Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, recalls how she came to know Sr. Gert and the ultimate effect she had on her life over the years. 

“Sr. Gert became a valuable member of our VLCFF Team as both an e-course designer and facilitator. 

Bro. Tom Giardino introduced me to Sr. Gert. She came with copious years of academic and pastoral wisdom based upon her leadership within her Religious Community and as an outstanding academic professor.

Her area of specialty was Church History and Ecclesiology. She guided hundreds of our VLCFF students through a deeper appreciation of the Catholic Church. Our VLCFF students loved her daily attentiveness, wisdom, and guidance in enriching their understanding of the Catholic Church.  

I know that one of her students invited her to Abu Dhabi to be his daughter's Confirmation Sponsor. In the Middle East, Sr. Gert was deeply loved.

Sr. Gert was a close spiritual advisor to me. Frequently we spoke on the phone of the challenges facing Religious Life today. She offered me a wise and compassionate mind and heart. She was a significant 'wisdom figure/woman' in my life.  She is deeply missed. Yet, I realize her presence continues to surround and embrace me.”

We here at IPI are beyond blessed to have called Sr. Gert a colleague, teacher and friend. We pray that her memory and legacy live on through the lasting impressions of grace and goodwill she bestowed on everyone she met. Her contributions to IPI and the VLCFF will never be forgotten.

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