Sr Gabriel Lee, R.I.P. 1917 – 2008
Sister Gabriel’s life was one of faithfulness to the Divine Missions as revealed in the charism of the Sisters of Our lady of the Missions. She was born in Ireland in 1917. In 1933, she met the RNDMs for the first time and later that same year, left Ireland to begin her novitiate training at Hastings in England.
In 1936, Sister Gabriel committed her life to God as she made her first vows, and for the next 73 years, she served Him with dedicated generosity, humility and a great sense of humour. She taught and worked in many of the Orders’ convents and spent time in the Generalate in Rome. Sister Pauline McDonald, in her eulogy for Sister Gabriel, says: “From my own experience, I remember Sister Gabriel’s kindness when I was a teenager just taking the first step into religious life in the Juniorate. She always managed to find us an extra sweet or biscuit and a kind word when things were tough.”
Leyland was her final place of ministry. Here with Sister Anna, she welcomed one and all with great hospitality and gentleness, participating fully in the life of St. Mary’s Parish, visiting the sick, helping with baptismal preparations and sharing the RNDM charism with the associates of OLM. Young people desperate for a night’s accommodation frequently found shelter with the sisters as part of the SLEAP programme. The list of her qualities and achievements could go on and on.. but not here. Suffice to say, she was very much valued and loved as one of St. Mary’s Parish family and very much missed when, obedient as ever, she later left the Leyland area to retire to Deal in Kent. There she continued her mission – always eager to hear news from Leyland. Sister Pauline writes that Sister Gabriel, because she became so attached and involved with her people, was always heartbroken whenever she had to say ‘Goodbye’ and move from one convent to another – she found this very hard to do – and this was very much more the case when she had to face retirement. Her final farewell to life, rather sadly, was filled with pain. A fall left her with a dislocated shoulder which could not be mended and she was admitted to hospital. However, the sisters with her when she died, testify to the fact that before her final journey began, the pain disappeared, her radiant smile returned and she gently and peacefully returned to God.
May she rest in peace. (RNDM = Religieuses de Notre Dame Missions = Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions)