Pick an instrument—any instrument—and chances are Sr. Gerald Helene Connelly can teach you to play it. “In order to teach music, you have to know all the instruments,” she explained. Sr. Gerald has taught music on all levels—elementary, secondary, and college—and served as principal. Although she holds both a B.A. in piano and organ and an M.A. in oboe and bassoon, for Sr. Gerald music is a gift inborn. “Our family was very musically inclined,” she explained. “My mother played the piano; my father sang in church, on the radio, and on TV. My brother, sisters, and I all played piano and one played the violin. There was never a day in our home without music.”
Sr. Gerald’s first introduction to the Sisters of St. Francis came when she was a student at West Catholic High School in Philadelphia. She remembers the Franciscan sisters as being very down to earth and showing an interest in all of the students. Sr. Gerald shared fond memories of Sr. Bernard Helene who later sponsored her when she entered the congregation. She also remembered Catherine Francis. “She made rosaries,” Sr. Gerald recalled, “and before she died she gave me her rosary-making tools.” Once Sr. Gerald entered the congregation, her own love of music helped forge a close connection to Sr. Francis Assisi who was then the liturgy director at the motherhouse and who taught music to the candidates and novices. One wonders if—at that point—Sr. Gerald realized the extent to which she would be sharing her own love of music.