Sister Susan Gubbins, M.M. celebrated her 60th Jubilee as a Maryknoll Sister on February 12th, 2017. She was born in Evergreen Park, IL. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1957. Sister Susan received a B.A. in Sociology in 1967 from St. Catherine’s, St. Paul, MN. That same year she was assigned to Hong Kong where she was Coordinator of the Group & Community Dept. of Caritas-Hong Kong as well as supervising youth activities in a Catholic Welfare Center.
In 1974, Sister Susan received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago and was assigned to Indonesia in 1975 where she set up a community based health program; was a consultant for social work in Bandung hospitals and eventually a teacher in the National School for Social Welfare. As always, Sister Susan made friends everywhere and especially in her own neighborhood of Muslim families.
Sister Susan assisted at a program in Rome in 1980 geared to Christians for a better understanding of Muslims.
In 1991, Sister Sue Gubbins and four other Maryknoll Sisters opened a new mission in East Timor, an island in the Indonesian archipelago. They were invited to East Timor by Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili. On Mardi Gras they arrived in the mountain parish of Aileu, with 18 villages, the first Sisters ever assigned to that parish. Slowly they got to know the people and their language and the many basic needs as they began their pastoral work.
As Sister Susan learned of the many people unable to walk, she and other trained technicians opened a shop for making special shoes and braces, run a profit-sharing basis among the workers.
In 1999, the Maryknoll Sisters had to evacuate East Timor and boarded the last plane to Australia. While in Australia for six weeks, the Sisters worked with Timorese refugees. When the Sisters returned to Aileu, they found that the shop for shoes and braces, the community based clinic, the school, and their home were destroyed. Their comment: “We were exactly where we had started out with, nothing.”
When Sister Susan returned to East Timor from the States, she had a 20 hour plane ride to Australia. Probably as a result of that very long flight Sister Sue suffered aneurisms that resulted in extensive debilitation and only after months of physical therapy was she able to return to East Timor.
With help from friends in the States, Sister Sue started to rebuild the shop for aiding those with special needs for shoes and braces.