Sister Monica Gillis
1941 – 2022
Born: 28th May 1941
Entered Religious Life: 11th February 1963
Died: 01st February 2022
Mary Monica Gillis was Christened Josephine, daughter of George Gillis and Dora Nee Weadick and was born in Dublin on the 28th May 1941.
She entered the Religious Sisters of Charity in Milltown on the 11th February 1963 and was received into the Novitiate on the 19th of August 1963 receiving the name Sr Mary Monica. She was professed on the 25th August 1965 and she died on the 1st February, 2022 in Beechlawn Nursing Home, Drumcondra Dublin 9.
The following dates give a sense of the mission and ministry of Monica during her Religious Life of 59 years.
From 25th September 1965 to the 13th September 1978 Monica lived and worked in Lady Lane Convent in Waterford working as housekeeper in the mornings and helping to run a creche for physically and intellectually challenged children.
In 1972 she was sent to Castle Priory College, Berkshire, England for training to assist in the childcare of these children and returned to Waterford in 1974 where she took charge of the Creche Unit.
On 13th September 1978 Monica was appointed Local Leader and continued to work in the Childcare Creche Unit. She was transferred out of Waterford on 6th January 1985. An extract from the Annals of the Convent tells us some of her story.
Extracts from the Annals of Waterford
‘Sisters Monica Gillis had come as a ‘Bride’ from Milltown in 1965. She was housekeeper and spent her afternoons in charge of the Creche for handicapped toddlers, which, since its foundation in 1958 was housed in the old “Fanning Institute”. In 1968/69 the Creche which was still run voluntarily, moved to Lady Lane where they had the use of part of the old St. Martin’s Orphanage. In the meantime, Sr Monica had shown how caring and understanding she was of these children and their parents. In 1972 she went to College in Berkshire for a special Course of Training while at the same time the building of the Day Unit was launched. Great Credit is due to her for the excellent way in which she organised and conducted this Unit from the time of her return in 1974 until she left in December 1984. The physically and mentally handicapped children of the area benefitted enormously as a result of her knowledge, expertise and generosity of sharing by “talks” and illustrated lectures. The Department of Health under which the Unit operates, held her in high regard.
In January 1985 Sister Monica Gillis left Waterford for her new home in Basin Lane. Sister was much appreciated in Waterford for all the work she undertook for the care of the handicapped children. The Unit was a credit to her hard work and dedication. May God bless and reward her for all she did’.
On the 6th January 1985 Monica was missioned to Basin Lane Convent in Dublin and spent the first year working part time on the Parish Team in St James’ Parish Dublin 8. As her mother was ill at home, Monica was granted leave of absence to go home and care for her mother. She returned to the Congregation on 20th December 1992.
On 20th December 1992 Monica was missioned to St Mary’s Residence for the blind in Merrion where she ministered to the Adults who were visually impaired. She remained in Merrion until 10th February 2007 and is fondly remembered by residents and staff who knew her.
Monica was then granted a sabbatical and lived in St Mary’s convent, Baldoyle Dublin 13 from February 2007. When the Congregation decided to close the convent, Monica helped out with that task until 27th March 2009. She then had a short break, living in Assumption Convent, Walkinstown Dublin 12 until 16th October 2009 when she was missioned to Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth Co Dublin where she helped with the hospitality ministry there. She remained in Howth until 5th June 2016, was given a short break in Stanhope Street convent Dublin 7 and then joined the community there formally, remaining until 18th May 2017.
On 18th May 2017 Monica retired to Loyola Nursing Home in St Mary’s Merrion where she had worked previously. When the nursing home closed quite suddenly in June 2020, Monica moved to Beechlawn Nursing Home where she was greatly cared for until she died suddenly on 1st February 2022. During these last few years Monica was linked to the Shalom Community. Sr Pauline Mitchell, a member of that community, was extremely caring and good to Monica, bringing her out to visit her sister Rita who was in the Hospice in Harold’s Cross, seeing to her needs and staying in touch with her.