sister eileen gamache


January 31, 1928 - February 22, 2013 

In every way a true Sister of St. Joseph
Caring and kind, quiet, but full of fun and gentle humor—these traits best describe Sister Eileen Gamache, a loving Sister of St. Joseph. Her friendliness and thoughtfulness invited others into her life.
She was born on January 31, 1928, in St. Louis and named Eileen Theresa by her parents, Claude and Edna Riley Gamache. On February 12, 1928, she was baptized at St. Matthew’s Church and it was there she would meet the Sisters of St. Joseph, who would become her teachers.
Raised in a Catholic environment, she knew from the seventh grade on that she wanted to be a Sister of St. Joseph. Eileen nurtured carefully her desire to grow in her love for Jesus, and after graduation from high school she entered the community in September 1945. She was 18 years old. On March 19, 1946, she was received and given the name S. Claude Elaine. From the beginning she took seriously her desire to be a dedicated follower of Jesus.
Teaching both elementary and high school students was to be her first ministry. With the exception of a few months at St. Joseph’s Academy in Green Bay, S. Eileen spent her early years teaching primary children, mostly in St. Louis schools. In 1966, she obtained a master’s degree in physical science from the University of Notre Dame. With that educational background she taught physics, chemistry and math at the high school level—at St. Joseph’s Academy, Green Bay; Reicher High School, Waco; St. Francis de Sales, Denver; St. Teresa’s Academy, Kansas City; and St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Louis.
S. Eileen remarked at times that she felt inadequate as a teacher. She knew it as a suffering which she accepted as a gift from Jesus. While on retreat one summer in the mid 70s, she determined that it was in her best interest to leave classroom teaching and discover a new way to minister. She ultimately found her niche as a pastoral minister. Certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains as a Pastoral Associate, she assumed the ministerial role of visiting the sick and elderly in Hancock, Mich. She loved the gift of those years—1977 to 1983—which she described as her happiest time of ministry.
Due to the presence of fewer sisters and the closure of some parishes, S. Eileen left Hancock and joined the Community Life Staff at Nazareth. There she gave excellent care to sister residents and worked as well in the escrow office and as a driver for the Office of Aging.
She retired to Nazareth in 1999, and as her health began giving way, she endured much physical pain. However, she was not one to complain or expect special treatment. Accepting her suffering as a gift, as long as she was able, she continued to share her beautiful voice with others in the Nazareth choir. Her desire had always been to offer her gifts and talents wherever and whenever they might be needed.
S. Eileen died on February 22. Her suffering and pain now over, she is united with the God she loved joyfully and served faithfully. Truly, she was a Sister of St. Joseph worth imitating. May she rest in peace.
S. Rita Louise Huebner
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