Sister Geraldine Brake, M.M.
Current Ministry Location-Panama
Sister Geraldine was born in Wilmington, Del., one of twelve children of Harry and Jennie Brake. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1966. She received her B.A. in Community Service from Mary Rogers College at Maryknoll, New York. Sister Gerri’s first mission was in Nicaragua, where she started work in 1972. After these first nine eventful years, the insurrection of 1979 and the toppling of Somoza’s regime, and the deaths of close friends killed in El Salvador in 1980, Sister Gerri returned to the United States.
In 1981-1982, Sister Gerri studied at Loyola College in Baltimore, MD, and earned an M.S. in pastoral counseling. She then became part of the Maryknoll Sisters formation team and worked with young women entering the Congregation for the first time.
She was assigned to Panama in January of 1989, looking forward to use her experience in spiritual counseling and formation as a staff member of the Panama Archdiocese’s Department of Vocations and Ministries. Sister Gerri did this work for less than a year when, on December 20, 1989, the U.S. Army invaded Panama in an attempt to replace President Manuel Antonio Noriega.
The shelling forced many Panamanians to flee their homes. They took refuge at Gorgas Hospital and Balboa High School. Sister Gerri and five other Maryknoll Sisters aided the refugees by coordinating food and medical supplies, serving as translators, and caring for the elderly among the refugees.
Sister Gerri’s work with the homeless elderly continued 15 years later, when she worked with many in Panama who lost their homes when the town of El Chorrillo was bombed and destroyed by fire during the invasion. In conjunction with various churches and civic groups, Sister Gerri has worked on a project to develop a residence for the elderly poor called Nueva Vida, or Foundation of New Life.
From 2009-2014, Sister Gerri worked with the elderly in a different setting–the Maryknoll Residential Care Center in New York. As administrator of the center, Sister Gerri was responsible for the elder care of all the retired Maryknoll Sisters who live there.
In 2014, Sister Gerri returned to Panama where she continues to serve the elderly poor at Nueva Vida Residence.