Sister Margaret Gavaghan died on December 24, 2019 and was buried at Saint Joseph Villa on December 30, 2019. Margie began spreading her joy when she was born into the Gavaghan family. James and Margaret had Margie, James, Kathy, Patty, Tommy, Mike, Marianne, Joe, and Patsy all living together along with their grandfather and a dog. This happy, large family dwelled on Schiller St. in the Ascension of Our Lord Parish.
Having S. Rose Amata as a teacher had a great influence on Margie, and she often admitted that the Sisters of Saint Joseph “were an integral part of our lives”. After graduating from Little Flower High School, Margie joined the Cadet program, an archdiocesan program to train and educate teachers. At the age of 18, Miss Margaret taught 60 fourth graders at St. Bartholomew School. During this year she discerned her call to religious life. As a part of this process, she wrote a 14-page letter to S. Elizabeth de Sales, telling her sixth grade teacher about her struggle. S. Elizabeth taciturnly responded, “Others advise, you must decide.”
After completing her novitiate, Margie began her educational career at St. Francis, Norristown, and, in addition to the Philadelphia diocese, served in Allentown, Washington, DC, and the New Jersey areas.
Margie made the seamless move from teacher to principal and even to social justice, by working with abused women, prisoners, children with AIDS, and the homeless in Philadelphia. Although she enjoyed her ideal niche as a theology teacher at St. Rose, Belmar, New Jersey, this committed religious desired to return to her Philadelphia roots, so she became a “traveling guidance counselor” for the Connolly Foundation. In addition, one day a week, she ministered as a chaplain at the Norristown State Hospital, where she shared Eucharist and life with patients, many of whom have been forgotten by society.
Margie attests to the influence her SSJ relations by stating, “The presence and companionship of many of our sisters has changed my life significantly, as I grew to love the ‘dear neighbor’ more.”
Margie had so many stories in her warm and wonderful life. Perhaps one of the best is of her dad, a bus driver for PTC, who would take the bus off route to stop at the convent to say goodbye to his daughter who was going on retreat. There Margie would wave to the cheering passengers from the steps of St. Athanasius Convent. Likewise, her mother would pack up the entire family and take them by train to the Jersey shore for an all-day outing. Margie stated that her parents taught her to have a “hotel heart,” room for everyone. As Margie retired last June, her kudos were not her Little Flower Hall of Fame admittance nor her Catholic Educator award from the diocese of Trenton, rather, she celebrated her family and the many generations they represented.
Following the prophet Micah’s call to “do right, love goodness, and walk humbly with God,” Margie has fulfilled these words and now is prepared to spend eternity with the God she loved so dearly.