Sister Gerry Marie Smith
“I learned I can put into the hands of God the pain I feel for others."
If there was anyone who could evoke laughter and prayer in the same moment, it is Sister Gerry Marie. She invites you to laugh at the difficulties and pray through what isn't easy. As a spiritual director at Spirit Center, she stays busy encouraging people to do exactly that.
“Her humor and Christianity never fail to amaze me especially at times when they are not expected,” wrote a former colleague. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Gerry Marie grew up in a turbulent family atmosphere and learned early on how to find the lighthearted and grace-filled spaces.
Her priest recognized her contemplative spirit and introduced her to Mother Regina O’Connell of St. Gertrude's. "I resonated with the Mother Superior’s Irish disposition and the beautiful Celtic tone of her faith," recalls Sister Gerry Marie. She made her First Monastic Profession in 1971. She began classes at St. Gertrude’s College and then transferred to Lewis-Clark State College where she could express her athletic gifts by playing basketball. She completed her teaching credential at University of Idaho.
Gerry has taught in Boise, Pocatello, Seattle and in DeSmet at the Coeur d'Alene Tribal School. Regarding her work with the Coeur D’Alene Tribe, a colleague wrote: “She is one of the most skillful teachers and counselors…compassionate, creative and highly trained.” Another commented: “If love, insight into reasons for human behavior, cooperation, support, patience and hard work are criteria for judging performance, Sister Gerry’s rating is a solid ten.”
Her ministries have also included parish work. She received her master’s in counseling in 1995 and began working as a therapist. As a mental health counselor, Sister Gerry Marie has been recognized for undertaking a heavy caseload of emotionally and physically abused children and adults. “She was known for taking the most difficult cases and was the most respected therapist,” wrote a colleague form Comprehensive Mental Health in Tacoma.
It was her own childhood and her first career in teaching that gave her a heart for children. “I could notice the woundedness in children,” she says, “I learned I can put into the hands of God the pain I feel for others."
As a member of the Spirituality Ministry team for Spirit Center, she finds that guiding others to prayer allows her to deepen her own prayer life. “With intentional listening I can reflect back to a person in a way that they can see themselves more clearly. At Spirit Center people can get in touch with growing toward the fullness God has called them to.”
Many remark on Sister Gerry Marie’s sense of humor and gentle guidance, her compassion and profound understanding. “I admire Gerry’s gift of being for another in her quiet unassuming way,” wrote yet another colleague. “I wish I could carry even half of what she seems to carry in her mind and soul.”