Remembrances

Sister Mary Gabrielle Hoefer, Age 89

West Midwest

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sister Gabrielle studied nursing at St. Joseph Mercy School of Nursing in Sioux City, Iowa. She became a registered nurse and made perpetual vows on August 16, 1954.

Sister Gabrielle’s ministerial life was rich in service to persons of all ages, needs and interests. Her first nursing assignment as supervisor of pediatrics at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, was interrupted by a need for a third-grade teacher at Our Lady of LaSalette School in nearby Berkley. She bravely completed this and returned to the hospital when relief arrived.

Following several years in clinical nursing, she became associate director of Mercy School of Nursing, then acting director of the department of nursing at Mercy College of Detroit, then director of a community health nursing grant.  

She was elected to serve on the Sisters of Mercy Provincial Administrative Team in 1971 and later became the director of continuing development for the province. In 1976, she moved into pastoral care at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Sioux City and continued there until transferring to Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque, Iowa, 10 years later. There she served as a staff chaplain for several years and then became director of the Dubuque Archdiocesan Office of Health Ministry. During her years in Dubuque, she was a strong support for her aging mother and her two older sisters in their declining years.

Six years later, it was time to slow down, and she returned to Mercy Hospital as a part-time/on-call chaplain. In 2010, she retired to McAuley Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, where she joined her younger sister, Sister Mary Monica, and many friends with whom she had ministered.     

Sister Gabrielle loved being a Sister of Mercy, attended every gathering she could and prepared for discussions. She was attentive to others’ needs, gentle in her approach and treasured by the nursing staff at McAuley for her presence with the terminally ill. She enjoyed good music, interesting conversations and playing cards, especially “hand and foot.” Vacations and travel were highlights, especially her trip to Ireland, a week at Cape Cod, annual trips to Stillpoint and a cross-country trip to Oregon. She will be missed for her gracious, unassuming manner, welcoming smile and her acceptance of a stroke, which kept her bedridden since August 2019.

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