Mother Gerard Phelan
“Your vocation as teachers is a noble calling. Your power lies in shaping the minds and hearts of youth towards all that is great and true and holy.” (Mother Gerard Phelan)
Anastasia Phelan was born January 18, 1872, in Glenmore, County Kilkenny, Ireland. After entering the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, she was appointed headmistress at Sacred Heart of Mary School in Seafield, England. Later she became president of Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, and the first Provincial Superior of the Northern American Province.
After the death of Mother Joseph Butler in 1940, the difficulties produced by the Second World War prevented the convening of a General Chapter for six years. In 1946, Mother Gerard was elected General Superior. Despite the difficulties of the postwar years, the Institute expanded to two countries in Africa: Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Houses were also opened in Canada and Mexico. During Mother Gerard’s leadership, the Northern American Province became two Provinces: Eastern American and Western American.
Mother Gerard is also remembered for her promotion of the cause of the beatification of Father Jean Gailhac. After fourteen years in office, Mother Gerard died March 22, 1960, in Tarrytown, New York.