Her last name naturally had her spiritually united with the Blessed Mother.
Sr. Gabrielle Marry’s professed vocation as a sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary the last 61 years united her even further. Sr. Gabby, as she was lovingly known, passed away June 2 at the age of 79.
Sr. Gabrielle Marry, IBVM
Born: Jan. 18, 1940
Novitiate: Oct. 17, 1958
Died: June 2, 2019
5 p.m. June 10 with a Vigil Service & Rosary at 6 p.m., Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave.
10 a.m. June 11, Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, immediately followed by a reception in Smith Hall. Interment will follow at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, 2033 N. 48th Street in Phoenix.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Loreto Sisters Retirement Fund, Ss Simon and Jude Convent, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85017.
She began serving the Diocese of Phoenix long before it was established and entrusted to Mary under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She would later serve a Flagstaff parish of the same name as pastoral associate. Sr. Gabby also spent time teaching at Sacred Heart in Prescott, with her later years rooted at Ss. Simon and Jude School and surrounding community efforts.
Life outside of formal Catholic apostolates had Sr. Gabby involved in pastoral care at a nearby Baptist hospital and an assisted living facility. She “bravely and cheerfully” lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 50 years, but that barely slowed her down.
“I remember her telling me about her journey with MS and about when she began to see her chair as a gift from God … and boy did she ever use her gift,” said Mary Novotny, a former Ss. Simon and Jude parent who later became a Mary Ward Associate — now Companions of Mary Ward — a group of people who share in the Loreto sisters’ spirituality and mission.
Sr. Gabby’s wheelchair and later, her scooter, never defined her, Novotny said. She joyfully embraced it as part of who she was.
It was the constant need for transportation to fulfill pastoral care work that people like Sara Tellez, a Ss. Simon and Jude alumna who just finished her fifth year teaching at the school, got to further know Sr. Gabby. Tellez recalled substitute driving on occasion and treasured the great conversations during the short ride.
She won’t forget the repeated conversation Sr. Gabby had with her and likely many others: “Don’t forget to think about what the Lord is calling you to.” Even once she found out about alumni traveling outside of the Valley short-term or for job opportunities, Sr. Gabby would say, “You know, we have Loreto sisters in other areas.”
“She never lost an opportunity to be in communication with others,” said Sr. Raphael Quinn, IBVM, who shares the same Sept. 29 feast day — that of the archangels — with Sr. Gabby. The pair have also both taught second and fifth grades at Ss. Simon and Jude and have served in Phoenix together since the early ‘60s.
“Hospitality was huge for her. She was always there for anyone who came to the convent,” Sr. Raphael said.
Mary Jo Wahlers, director of advancement and alumni relations, knew Sr. Gabby since the late ‘90s and always saw the Loreto sister lifting anyone having a bad day.
“Some people have that extra special way about her and she was one of them for sure,” Wahlers said.
Many agreed it was her faith that drew people toward her. Sr. Raphael said being present at Mass and Adoration was a vital part of the day, even when it meant venturing out in extreme heat.
Justine Keebler, a physical education teacher at the school for 18 years, recalled Sr. Gabby setting her son straight about the Eucharist. The young lad was so excited to receive, that he often tried a year early. She had Sr. Gabby talk to him, who pulled him out of class one day and talked to him. From that moment on, he patiently awaited formation and his true first Communion.
Christ is what drove Sr. Gabby, said Tellez, a fellow teacher. “No matter what we go through, we still have God to guide us,” she said.
Sr. Gabby helped inmates realize that throughout her life. She had pen pals in Arizona’s prisons, particularly those with anger management issues. Wahlers said some developed a relationship with Jesus as a result of their letters.
“She did that for many, many years until she couldn’t hold a pen any more,” Wahlers said.
Sr. Gabby also supported literacy efforts with children at Our Lady of Fatima Mission and through the Loyola Project at Brophy College Preparatory. She held a B.A. in history/English from University of San Diego and an M.A. in counseling and guidance from the University of Arizona.
Sr. Gabby was preceded in death by her parents, Austin and Bridie, and by her brothers, Gerry, Phil, Michael and Oliver. She is survived by her sister, Sr. Concepta, RGS, and by her sister-in-law, Rita, and devoted nieces, nephews and cousins, who will mourn her loss. She is also survived by her Loreto Sisters and the clergy and staff of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral and School, as well as all those who were co-workers in education ministry and in her pastoral care ministry, her dear friends, her former students, and all who may have been blessed by her care and prayer in their times of ill health.