Sister Mary Joan

JoanGaynorSister Mary Joan        ND 5262              ⇒PDF Download
Joan Enid Gaynor

Our Lady of the Assumption Province, Patna, India

Date and Place of Birth:             February 29, 1940      Jamalpur
Date and Place of Profession:    August 16, 1960         Cleveland, OH, USA
Date and Place of Death:           September 30, 2014   Narayana Hrudyalaya Hospital, Bangalore
Date and Place of Burial:            October 2, 2014         Notre Dame Provincial House Cemetery, Patna

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” 

This biblical verse above summarizes the life of Sister Mary Joan, a priceless treasure with no guile in her heart towards anyone. This quality of the heart made her sensitive to respond to the urges of the Spirit to understand, forgive and witness the genuine love of God. She could easily reconcile and maintain a good rapport with all, and share her resources generously, without any conditions and prejudices. Thus, she lived a life of joyful, child-like simplicity, a sense of wonder and gratitude.

Sr. Mary Joan was born in the family of Eric Gaynor Scotland, a Railway Workshop Foreman, Jamalpur and Enid Savedra, Calcutta. In August 1943 her dear mother went to her heavenly abode. Her father was left with 6 children ranging from 2-8 years. Out of six children, four were sent to the boarding-school, while Joan and her younger sister stayed at home with her father. In spite of all these difficult family situations, her father remained an exemplary Catholic, attending daily Mass and participating in all church activities.

After completing her Senior Cambridge Examination at Notre Dame Academy, Jamalpur, Joan Gaynor decided to follow Jesus in the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame. In 1957 she was invested and later was sent to Notre Dame, Cleveland, OH, USA, for her higher studies.  Sister Mary Joan acquired the Masters in English from John Carroll University, Cleveland, OH in 1964 and Bachelor of Education and other short courses in Theology and other educational streams in India.

Sister Mary Joan with her sliding fingers over the keyboard produced music which echoed in the chapels, refectories, stages of whichever community she lived in. Her quick parodies on the occasions of feast days, birthdays and jubilees brought the community together in joy and celebrations. Sister Mary Joan will be remembered with much love and gratitude for her administrative qualities and also for her intellectual abilities that brought out unique ideas with effectiveness and purpose. Sister’s excellent gift of teaching in the senior classes not only English but also Moral Science and Music in Bangalore, Patna, and Jamalpur is praiseworthy. She imbibed in her students inner freedom and courage to tell the truth and express their convictions in a spirit of openness.

Sister’s special love for creation, especially the animals, was very commendable. Seeing a sick fish in the pond she would say, “Poor thing it can’t even tell how it feels.” Sister Mary Joan was simple, innocent, and spontaneous in her dealings and behavior in all her communications and relationships.

This summer while she was visiting her relatives in Bangalore, it was diagnosed that she had a tumor in her heart. In consultation with cardiologists in Bangalore it was decided that Sister had to have open heart surgery. So on September 22, Sister went to Bangalore, was operated upon on the 24th in Narayana Heart Hospital, Bangalore. Even though the operation was successful, it was announced that the healing would be a slow process. On September 30th the fluctuating health situation alarmed the medical staff and medical sciences could not revive her to life. At 6:15 pm Sister Mary Joan went home to God, peacefully. Sister Mary Joan was a precious gift from God to Notre Dame, an exemplary educator, outstanding in Western Music, the Nightingale of Western singing in Notre Dame, a faithful follower of Jesus and a true daughter of St. Julie, our Spiritual Mother.

May her soul rest in peace!