Sister Gertrude Gallagher, M.M.
Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center
Sister Gertrude Gallagher entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1952 from Iowa, and received her B.S.N. from St.Teresa’s College, Winona, Minn and her Master’s in Nursing Education from Columbia University in NYC. She was Director of Nursing Services at the Maryknoll TB Hospital in Monrovia, CA and also worked at the Sisters Bethany facility in NY before leaving to begin language school in Bolivia in 1969.
Sister Gertrude a nurse, was part of the Vicariate Health Team of Riberalta, Beni, Bolivia, a remote northeastern jungle area. She visited house bound and physically challenged people, doing treatments as needed. She was also an advisor to the nurses in Hospital Riberalta and an advisor to the Practical Nursing School.
A graduate from the School for Practical Nurses in Riberalta, started by the Maryknoll Sisters, she went on for her graduate degree and this Bolivian woman became the Director of the whole Regional Health Sector #7 in Riberalta.
In 1970, Sister Gertrude became Director of this School for Practical Nurses in Riberalta. She also taught and supervised in the hospital, and was adviser to the Public Health clinics. She was also nurse for the Mission Team and Coordinator of the Caritas programs in the Pando Vicariate. She prepared many of the Practical Nurses who staff the hospital and clinics in the Beni as well as in other parts of Bolivia.
In 1990, she used her nursing skills in the Residential Care facility at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY, caring for aged and infirm Sisters for five years, and was inspired “by these women in their winter years.”
She volunteered for a short term assignment to Albania in January 1996 to join a team of three Maryknoll Sisters already there. The Bishops of Eastern Europe had requested help to rebuild the Church and strengthen the faith of the people who had suffered more than forty years of repression under Communist rule. Sister Gertrude and another Maryknoll Sister were trapped for several days during the civil strife in 1997 but chose to remain with the Albanian people. When the bishop saw them, the first thing he said was “It’s good to see you alive!”
Sister Gertrude returned to her first love, Riberalta, in 1998 and continued her ministry of health care, “helping people have more life.”
In 2002 she started a project for diabetics with a part time doctor and a full time nurse. People who came to the clinic could also join the Diabetic Club where they received mutual support with weekly meetings and educational talks. Several hundred people are registered in the clinic and the long term plan was that this will be self-sustaining.
Sister Gertrude was assigned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2015.