Posted July 30, 2020 in Obituaries
A Song on Her Lips
We will remember Sister Gemma Stracka with a song in her heart and a prayer on her lips, ever ready to assist others on their journey to the God of love and life. She reminds us, “The gift I believe I have is a great love for the Church’s liturgy, especially the musical component of it.” This faithful daughter of the church went home to God on July 30, 2020 at Regina Health Center.
Barbara Stracka was born August 19, 1934 to George and Cecilia (Holtzhauer) Stracka in the heart of Cleveland where she was baptized at St. Aloysius Church and then spent her formative years at St. Jerome School. After graduating from Villa Angela Academy, she entered the community in 1952 and professed her final vows in 1958.
From 1954 until 1981 Sister Gemma taught at a variety of elementary schools in the diocese including St. Jerome, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Timothy, St. Robert, St. Francis de Sales, Holy Cross, St. Charles and Immaculate Conception (Willoughby). Her love of teaching and her deep faith found renewed commitment as she served as a pastoral minister and/or Director of Religious Education at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, St. Bernadette Parish and St. Robert Bellarmine Parish (Blue Springs, MO).
Notably, while Sister Gemma was ministering at St. Bernadette, she was granted life membership to the Music Commission of the Diocesan Pastoral Liturgy Office in gratitude for her service to the diocese. Sister also left her mark as a cherished visitor on death row and as an advocate for those condemned to capital punishment. When an inmate she befriended was executed, Sister Gemma observed, “He was a good friend. I grieve for him as for a beloved brother. I never dreamed what a hidden treasure I’d find in the heart of a prison.”
Later in life Sister Gemma ably used her skills as the Liturgy Coordinator for the congregation while at the same time she volunteered in the Laurel Tree Gift Shop, the Holy Family Learning Center and the community’s Development Office. In 2017, Sister Gemma moved to Regina Health Center. There she witnessed to her profound trust in God as she surrendered her external ministries and became a blessing of presence for others.
In her words we come to know the divine love Sister Gemma experienced, expressed in her personal Magnificat: “”Proclaim the compassion of God, my soul. He who is mighty has gifted me with love and the ability to survive. He has always been there for me, in every age of my life. He has upheld Gemma, his beloved, ever mindful of his mercy, even when I forgot Him; Even as He promised our Mother, promised Angela and her daughters to be with our company forever.”
She is survived by her cousins Joanna Bartos and Daniel Palczynski (Kathy).
Services for Sister Gemma will be held at St. Noel Church, 35200 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills on Tuesday, August 4 at 10:00am.
There will be no visitation. Masks and social distancing are required. Donations in her memory can be made to the Ursuline Sisters at https://www.ursulinesisters.org/support-us/donate