Sister Geraldine (Gerri), was born in Wilmington, Delaware, 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, NY. Sister Gerri’s first mission was in Nicaragua in 1972. Her nine years there were very eventful years: the insurrection of 1979, the toppling of the Somoza regime, and the deaths of close friends killed in El Salvador in 1980, are events that transpired during her time there.
In 1981 Sister Gerri returned to the United States and studied for a year at Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. She 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.
She was assigned to Panama in January of 1989. She was looking forward to use her experience in spiritual counseling and formation as a staff member of the Panama Archdiocese’s Department of Vocation and Ministries. Sister Gerri did this work for less than a year when on December 20th, 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 distribution of food and medical supplies, serving as translators, and caring for the elderly among the refugees.
Sister Gerri’s work with the homeless and elderly continued as she worked with many in Panama who lost their homes when the town of Chorillo was bombed and destroyed the invasion. In conjunction with various churches and civic groups, Sister Gerri worked on a project to develop a residence for the elderly who are less fortunate called Nueva Vida, or Foundation of New Life.
From 2009 – 2014, Sister Gerri worked with the elderly in a different setting, the Maryknoll Sisters Residential Care in New York, as administrator responsible for the care of the retired elderly Sisters who need assistance. Upon completing her term, Sister Gerri returned to Panama back to the Foundation of New Life project where she is currently in ministry.