Sister Anne Marie Gastle

Written on: September 26, 2017

Sister Anne Marie Gastle, GNSH, age 93 years, died in St. Joseph’s Manor, 1616 Huntingdon Pike, Meadowbrook, PA, on September 22,2017.

Following is the reflection written by Sr  Karen Marie Voltz for the Funeral Liturgy  

As I, Sr. Karen Marie Voltz, begin to write and share my remembrances of Sr. Anne Marie Gastle, –I do so because Sister made this request of me! I met Sister Anne Marie forty years ago, so I missed out on her first fifty-three years.

Mary Geraldine Gastle was born in Buffalo, New York on April 30, l924 to Laura and Joseph Gastle, their first daughter.
Quite a few years later, her only sibling was born, Sally, whom Gerry claimed she had to “babysit and drag all over North Buffalo with her” —but whom she loved dearly.

Mary Geraldine attended Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo, NY, graduating in l941 with classmates, Sister St. William Hoffman, and Sister John Patrick Russell. She probably would not have been picked by her Grey Nun teachers to enter the convent! Gerry loved to tell how she would go to afternoon classes or study hall, sign in, then slip out. She and a classmate would run down Hertel Avenue to the North Park Theatre, enjoy what was featured, then run back to HAA for dismissal. This was a down-pat-ritual, until one day running out of the theatre at break-neck speed—they literally ran into Mother St. Edward Coonly and a Sister-companion, who had ben walking down Hertel Avenue. That was the end of Miss Gastle’s “afternoons at North Park Theatre.”

Sister Anne Marie entered the Grey Nuns in January, 1941. Sister Agatha Doe, who became her life-long friend was a senior novice, Sister Irene Murphy was a canonical novice. Among those in her “band” were Sisters Catherine Jean Shanahan, St. William Hoffman, Rose Ann Taylor, Leo Marie Beck, and the sole survivor of the band – Sister Eileen Murray!

Sister Anne Marie was professed on August 24, l944, and was sent to teach at St. Canicus in Mahanoy City, PA for a year. Her next ten years were spent in Jackson Heights and Corona, NY at Blessed Sacrament, St. Leo’s and Our Lady of Fatima.
For one year, she taught in Ogdensburg, NY at Bishop Conroy Grade School in the mornings, and rushed over to teach art in the high school in the afternoons. After that year, Sister taught seven years at St. Mary’s Academy High School, Ogdensburg, NY, having the pleasure of teaching Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, her three brothers, and two sisters.

After receiving a BA from D’Youville College, Sister Anne Marie sweltered numerous summers, in full habit, at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC obtaining a Masters in Fine Arts. Her thesis pieces were a silver chalice, paten, and silver ciborium. These vessels were used at Mass for many years at Holy Angels Academy, Buffalo, NY, the Motherhouse at Yardley, PA, and are being used in our Liturgy this morning!

Sister then taught one year at Immaculate Conception School, Eden, NY. A year later in l964, Sister began an illustrious thirty-five year career at Holy Angels Academy, Buffalo, NY. For many years, Sister Anne Marie was the Art Department at HAA. She taught Design and Illustration, Studio and Art, Water Colors, Oil Painting, Knife Painting, Calligraphy Ceramics, Photography and Art Appreciation Courses. She had a homeroom, was yearbook moderator for years, and took students on annual class trips to New York City.

Not only could Sister produce artistic creations herself, she could elicit like-talent from her students. A blank canvas, a hunk of clay, or a roll of film could become a masterpiece!

Sister Anne Marie also taught life-long lessons: you can paint over a mistake. You can repair the crack in the ceramic piece. You can make the double-exposure into a unique photo!

On note cards, Sister shared her photos of birds and flowers, of the stained glass windows of the chapel at Yardley, in Ideals Magazines, and in multi-media slide presentations. Sister Anne Marie also taught evening art classes for adults for many years at HAA.

At the time of St. Marguerite’s canonization in 1990, Sister made a ceramic chalice with D’Youvillian symbols, which was presented to Pope John Paul II.

Almost every year, Sister Anne Marie made a trip to California to visit her sister, Sally and her brother-in-law Mike. She was devoted to her two nieces, Karen and Kathy and their children. In Buffalo, her cousins Marge and Chuck were her “family” with weekly outings and frequent dinners.

Sister was talented in so many ways! She made the best bread pudding in the world, though each batch was different. There was no recipe card to copy—nothing was written down!
Sister Anne Marie loved to make homemade turkey-vegetable soup in November and December. Her resounding request was: “Save your turkey carcass for me!” By the end of December, one could barely open the convent freezer, without a turkey carcass in a plastic bag falling out onto the kitchen floor,
from a multitude of donors.

Sister Anne Marie cherished daily Liturgy. She loved the Grey Nuns, parties, playing cards, BINGO, doing things for others, classical music, operas, movies, chauffeuring, going out to dinner, and hearing from former students.
Sister Anne Marie and I first met in l977 when I came to Holy Angels Academy. Our friendship was one of those mysteries and miracles of Divine Providence! Sister delighted in constantly doing things for me! Obviously, we were nothing alike! I never played BINGO! I did succumb to playing cards with her. We both like movies, but it was a real compromise for each of us – to find a movie we could both enjoy! We both liked classical music, good food, talking and laughing! How we laughed!

I was a full time religion teacher and campus minister and always tardy with deadlines. I could not have survived with out Sister Ann Marie constantly offering to correct objective tests and exams, while I did the essays!

I did Mission Appeals from May to September—Sister drove me to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, and picked me again very late Sunday nights—for thirty years!

Sister retired from the classroom in 1999, and chose to stay two more years at HAA to help me in the convent. In 2001 she re-located to the Motherhouse, spending hours driving others to appointments. In 2013, her health failing, she moved to St. Joseph’s Manor, Meadowbrook, PA. On September 22, 2017 after a visit that afternoon with Sister Mary Brendan Connors, she died peacefully at 6:44pm at 93 years old.

I recall her daily petition at Mass in Holy Angels Academy Chapel:

“In gratitude for our religious vocations!” So we pray this morning in gratitude to God for the religious vocation of Sister Anne Marie Gastle, as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart.

[Written by Sr. Karen Marie Voltz GNSH and read
by Sr. Mary Brendan Connors GNSH on September 30, 2017


Mary Geraldine Gastle was born in Buffalo, NY on April 30, 1924 the daughter of the late Joseph H. and Lauretta Catherine McManus Gastle.  She graduated from Holy Angels Academy and received a BS in English from D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY (1950). The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC awarded her an MFA, with a minor in religion, in 1966. She was a member of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart for 76 years. (Her 75th Jubilee remembrance)

A life long educator, Sister Anne Marie influenced the lives of countless young people and adults as she introduced them to the world of beauty around them. Her instruction in painting, calligraphy and photography coaxed undreamed of talent from many students over a span of almost 60 years. St. Canicus, Mahanoy City, PA was her first teaching assignment (1944-45). Sister Anne Marie then went to teach in several areas of New York State. These included Jackson Heights: Blessed Sacrament (1945-49) and Our Lady of Fatima (1956-59), Corona: St. Leo’s (1949-52); Ogdensburg: Bishop Conroy (1952-53) and St. Mary’s Academy (1953-56, 1959-63); Eden: Immaculate Conception (1963-64). Sister Anne Marie then joined the faculty of her Alma Mater, Holy Angels Academy, where she remained for 37 years (1964-2001).

Upon full retirement from Holy Angels Academy, she moved to the Motherhouse in 2001 where she immediately and generously became a faithful “driver” for sisters in need of transportation to doctor’s offices, appointments or on fun trips. Only ill health caused her to be unavailable for a sister needing a ride somewhere during the next few years. She moved to St. Joseph Manor in 2013 where she lived until the time of her death, enjoying bingo and visiting with residents, especially other Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.

She held membership in the Catholic Fine Arts Society, St. Luke’s Art Guild, the Diocesan Art Teachers Association and The International Society of Art Through Education.

In addition to her religious congregation, she is survived by her sister, Sally Anne Sheehan (Mrs. Michael F) of Fresno, CA and two nieces.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Visitation begins at 9:30 AM and Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 AM, in the Redeemer Sisters Chapel, 521 Moredon Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Sister Anne Marie’s memory may be made online to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.  Messages of condolence and memorial donations may also be sent by mail to: The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, 14500 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116-1188.

Funeral arrangements by Beck-Givnish Funeral Homes, Inc.


4 thoughts on “Sister Anne Marie Gastle

  1. Mrs. Marie E.Humel says:

    Dear Sister Anne Marie,
    May you rest peacefully in the arms of the angels.You were my 6th grade teacher in Our Lady of Fatima back in the day.to your family please accept my condolences.

  2. Alma Troiano says:

    Sr. Anne Marie was very important to me and helped in my decision to enter. Many were the hours we spent in the art room after school, looking out at the Carmelites and talking of this and that. Her stories were great ones – I loved the one about coming back (from Washington, maybe?) with her newly made chalice and ciborium, and having to buy another suitcase so she could equalize the load between them and not be lopsided. Her art work was beautiful, and she taught us all lots of techniques and lots about using tools. Bless you, Sr. Anne Marie!

  3. Richard Postiglione says:

    Sister Anne Marie was my 1st grade teacher many years ago at St. Leo’s school in Corona NY. May she rest in peace.

  4. Carole Brunetto Woomer says:

    I will think of Sister Anne Marie each year when I set up my nativity scene. She spent hours with me after school, teaching me to paint the ceramic figures and then firing them in the kiln. Such patience! It is so beautiful and I cherish the memory.

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