Sr. Geraldine Hedinger, a Sister of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana was the Director of Adult Faith Formation in the Diocese of Evansville and Why Catholic? Coordinator as well. Sadly, she passed away on February 2, 2010. This moving tribute appeared in the March 26 issue of the diocesan newspaper, The Message.

Wabash Valley Corrections Resident Pays Tribute to Sister Geraldine

To the editor:

There are individuals in this life who are natural givers and leaders, happy to leave a lasting impression of love and joy in everyone they come across. Sister Geraldine was of that character.

[She was] profoundly beautiful in her unquestioning faith and devotion to God’s calling in her life. God spoke, she listened. The community at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility felt her presence. She was one of those nameless miracle-working wonders.

Always listening and never denying God’s great will, Sister Geraldine touched my life in ways that only God could have orchestrated.

Over the past three years I have been given an opportunity to grow and develop an amazing relationship with a spiritual director. Previously, I was at a critical stage in my life, searching, questioning and desiring a closer understanding with God.

Upon hearing of my journey, Sister Geraldine connected me with an individual perfectly suited for my unique situation. God spoke, she listened.

I have grown by leaps and bounds since that fateful meeting. It was God in her that provided me with that perfect, harmonious balance. Since then, that spiritual director has become a regular volunteer at the prison, mentoring five men and teaching numerous classes. Like ripples in a pond, Sister Geraldine’s effect will continue to make waves in the hearts of everyone.

Sister Geraldine’s dedication also brought the Why Catholic? Program to the incarcerated at Wabash Valley. She was our link, along with others, to the outside Catholic community. Matthew 25:36 says, “I was in prison and you visited me.” She not only visited me, she took that commission to heart and welcomed us into her life. Her mission was to educate and bring the community behind these walls closer under God with the knowledge of the Catholic faith and tradition. Through her tireless love, Sister Geraldine accomplished that mission by touching countless lives.

Here are what a few participants expressed regarding their Why Catholic? experience with Sister Geraldine:

· “The first time I met Sister Geraldine was in the chapel here at Wabash Valley. She was helping to train several of us to be facilitators in the Why Catholic program. Her presence really made you lower your walls and open yourself up to the moment. I will always remember something she said to me after one of the meetings: ‘Always remember that God accepts you.’ Through her actions she incarnated this truth. I will miss her greatly.” -JW

· “Why Catholic has meant a lot to me because it has brought about a greater spiritual awakening and awareness. It has helped me focus especially during this time of Lent.” -JA

· “Sister Geraldine’s work, and the people she brought into my life, helped me to deepen my faith and truly feel a part of the church. It is because of people like her and those who allow men in my circumstances a second chance in life, that we have come to realize our potential and God’s grace. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sister Geraldine, and may God continue to bless you.” -RH

· “Sister Geraldine was an inspirational guidance in how I journeyed through my Why Catholic seminars.” -KN

· “To know Sister Geraldine was both inspirational and refreshing. Bringing the Why Catholic? to us prisoners and giving us new growth is the true definition of spreading God’s Word. Sister Geraldine is and always will be a true servant of God. Also, from my perspective, it is hard to put into words her true loving and spiritual heart and all I can say is this: She was able to give hope and life.” -BB

Sister Geraldine is loved and her presence will be missed in our community, her loss felt by the Catholic community both inside and outside of these walls. That being said, her footprints will never be lost as long as everyone touched by her saintly love continues her selfless service.

She would be sure to remind us that she was only doing what she was supposed to do, called to do. Remember, God spoke and she listened, and I thank God for all the blessings he has provided everyone here with and through Sister Geraldine.

I will forever strive to be an example of her faith, hope and love to all those I come into contact with because of the life changing effect she had on my walk with God.

Community has always been my foundation and support, and she understood that connection. She worked so hard to develop the faith community because she understood the correlation between a close community and a strong faith. Sister Geraldine has provided us with a blueprint and it is up to us to carry that message on to future generations and not waste her dedication.

In closing, I would like to include a quote from a devotional book entitled “God Calling.”

“Work for Me, with Me, through Me. All work to last must be done in My Spirit. How silently My Spirit works. How gently and gradually souls are led to My Kingdom. Love and laughter from the plough that prepares the ground for the seed. Remember this. If the ground is hard, seed will not grow there. Prepare the ground, prepare it as I say.”

I imagine Sister Geraldine had a direct line with God. God spoke, and with her unending devotion one can only wonder in awe at the lives tilled by His Grace and Sister Geraldine’s answering love and laughter!

- Erick Schmitt 994160 | Carlisle