The Story of Sister Gerardine

How She Loves 100 Years of Life.


On a bright chilly Tuesday morning at Mount Saint Dominic Academy, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with a 100 year old sister by the name of Sister Gerardine Mueller. Sister Gerardine, a small petite woman with white hair and glasses, just recently celebrated her centenary birthday. In honor of this amazing achievement we decided to discuss with her her childhood, what brought her to become a sister, and how she began her career as a stained glass artist.

Sister Gerardine grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, with her one brother and two parents. Her mother was a fashion artist for McCall’s magazine, while her father was a florist. She lived a block away from both her church and her Catholic school in which she and her brother attended elementary and middle school. To this day Gerardine is grateful for her wonderfully supportive and loving parents. They were hesitant at first when Gerardine asked to become a Sister at the age of sixteen but eventually accepted that this was God’s calling to Gerardine and was very proud of her.

Sister Gerardine attended Mount St. Dominic Academy her junior year and went on to Caldwell College, majoring in English. All her life Sister Gerardine loved art, and after graduating, she proceeded to get a master’s in art. She first went to both Fordham University and Columbia University to make up the eighteen art credits she needed. From there she went to the University of Notre Dame where she received her master’s in both art and fine arts with a minor in lettering.

Ever since Sister Gerardine can recall, she has forever wanted to be a Sister and teacher.

Sister Gerardine taught at three different schools in New Jersey: Lacordaire Academy, Saint Johns, and Saint Dominic Academy. Throughout Sister Gerardine’s teaching career she taught different grades ranging from first grade all the way up to sixth grade, teaching subjects like history, geography, and art.

As Sister Peggy Anne, Mrs. Lowery, Mr. McDonald, Cecelia Russel and I walked into Sister Geraldine’s art room, we were met by a big unfinished stained glass window laying on top of a table. Mr. McDonand asked about the history of her love for stained glass and Sister Gerardine explained. Back in the day, Sister Vivian had attended a Dominican Convention in Spain where she met the Bishop of Ecuador, Tomás Angel Romero Gross. There Vivian became friends with

Tomás and invited him to come and stay with her in New Jersey. During the summer of 1977 Bishop Tomás attended the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia and during his stay there, he decided to come to Caldwell to reconnect with Vivian. Once in Caldwell, h

e was astonished and amazed by the stained glass windows at Caldwell College. Afterward, he pondered to himself, “What if Sister Gerardine went back to Ecuador with him and did the windows for my church?” Upon receiving the invite, Sister Gerardine la

ughed to herself and exclaimed “Why not!” So Bishop Thomas and Sister Gerardine went back to Ecuador where she soon realized that she had signed up for much more than she had imagined. She didn’t know how to cut or fire stain glass nor how to lead, or glue, the glass together. During Sister Gerardine’s sabbatical, a period of paid absence granted to a university teacher, she took several courses at the Durham Studio in New York City to learn more about making stained glass windows. She went on to lea

rn from the country’s top stain glass artist, Alvenus Alsus. Sister Gerardine learned how to stain, paint, and ply glass with great skill. Sister Gerardine headed back down to Ecuador to complete her work in Tomás’s church.

From then on she realized and embraced her love for making stained glass. Currently, Sister Gerardine is working on the windows around the university theater. They represent the rolling hills and trees of the university’s mountainous area. Sister Gerardine’s work is now exhibited all over in America from Texas to Oregon and Indiana to New York. . A

nyone who gets to know or meet Sister Gerardine is blessed for she is not only a wonderful, kind, and deep generous soul but a talented, creative, and skilled artist and learned teacher too.

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