Sister Victoria Gereau
A Life of Learning and Loving
“She loved God and others. She loved learning. She was kind and faithful to us all.” These words, from an epitaph by her niece, Jeanne Kress, summarize many of the sentiments heard over the years and during the rituals and liturgy celebrating Sister Mary Victoria Gereau’s new life in Christ.
Family, friends and community remember Sister Victoria’s dedication to teaching and to long lasting friendships. They recall her many days and hours given to creating beautiful designs that became greeting cards. They recall her great interest in each of her family members.
“Sister Victoria was friendly and always caring. She had kind and welcoming words for children and adults. At times she had demonstrated a strong will, but she loved and cared for all. Her family was part of her life always. Her kindness and love showed in her interest in us all. Her love of God taught her and all of us that being a child of God and a member of God’s family draws us all together forever,” reflects Jeanne.
Teaching was Sister Victoria’s first passion as some of her former students relate. “Sister Victoria taught my brothers at St. Columbkille High School. They speak highly of her as a teacher,” shares Sister Marlene McDonnell, SCC. “Sister was always hospitable and gracious to me when I visited.”
It was her love of teaching that inspired a love of learning in Sister Victoria’s students. “She was an excellent teacher who kept a pleasant and organized classroom,” recalls Sister Louann Doering. “Seeing her lovely smile, you could tell that she loved to teach. She was serious and had good discipline and she helped us enjoy subjects that were hard.”
Through teaching, Sister made friends. “She taught me and my three sisters,” says Sister Donna Determan. “She was always our good friend and that of our dear mother, always asking about us.”
Working hard to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degree, including certification in Latin and French, Sister Victoria lived Nano Nagle’s mission throughout 39 years in Catholic grade and high schools in Iowa and for six years tutoring French students after she retired to Mount Loretto in 1988. She continued her hobbies of crocheting, playing guitar and violin, calligraphy and silk-screening greeting cards. She loved to sit in the sun in the four seasons room, go to the chapel and be with her Lord or do spiritual reading.
There were many things her family loved about Sister Victoria: her smile, her gentle touch, her eye for the beautiful and creative and her love for family. She made it important to know all her nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren. She remembered family birthdays with a yearly silk-screened calendar containing all the family’s dates of the living and deceased.
As sister and aunt, she was with family as often as possible. She and her sisters slept in the same bed. She enjoyed the same prom as Betty. She picked apples and carrots with brothers Roy and Frankie. She babysat Mary Virginia (Honey) before entering the convent. She spent many summers with her mother Anna when home visits began. She shared most of her religious life with her sister, Sister Virginia.
Visiting Mount Loretto with her classmate, Sister Bonita Determan for jubilee in April, Mary Jane Hale Porter from Mason City wrote to Sister Victoria shortly before Sister’s passing: “Sister Victoria, I loved being able to see you! You look beautiful probably because you lived a beautiful life. I know you were a wonderful teacher. Every time my class gets together, we rave about how much we loved being in your class. I am eternally grateful.”
Sister Victoria traveled a journey of learning how to let go when hanging on and wanting to be with others was her preference. And yet, in her final days, she took plenty of time to let all say ‘goodbye.’ She never did anything fast. She was deliberate and precise. On April 27, after family and community had sat and prayed with her for a week, she slipped away to God quietly and alone, filled with a life-time of learning and loving.
If you would like to make a memorial gift in memory of Sister Victoria, click here.