By Sr Marie Thérèse Rétout OP and Sr Catherine Therese Mc Comie OP
It was in the village of Santa Cruz that Gloria Laurie was born on January 17, 1928.
She was the only child of her parents, Viliers Laurie and Elenora Laurie (née Milford).
Her father died very early on in the marriage leaving his wife as a widow to take care of their little Gloria.
She was baptised on October 21, 1939, at the St Francis RC Church, Belmont and confirmed on November 29, 1939 at the Holy Rosary Church, Port of Spain.
Gloria attended the Brasso Seco RC Primary School then she went to St Joseph’s Convent Port of Spain for her Secondary education.
She taught for a few years with ‘Mother Lydia’ at the St Joseph’s Convent Prep School, 1946–1950.
Though very loved by her mother, she heard the call of a much greater love that of the Lord Jesus Himself asking her to become His spouse and give her life in a service of love.
Her acceptance meant the separation from her beloved mother which would prove to be very difficult for her mother.
Gloria left home clandestinely. She eloped with her beloved Jesus. She entered the novitiate of the Dominican Sisters at Holy Name Convent on July 26, 1950 at the age of 22. She took the name of Sr Jean Marie and was finally professed on October 26, 1955.
Mother Jean Marie, as she was then called, was assigned to the Belmont community attached to the St Dominic’s Children’s Home (also called the Belmont Orphanage) as the Prioress.
Sr Gloria had proved her authenticity and nobleness of character ever since her entry and was soon appointed as Manager of the Home in 1963. Most of the older French nuns were returning to their homeland at this time of Independence in our own nation, after serving in the special work of love since 1868.
The task was daunting for this young Sister. At this time there were about 675 children in the institution—392 girls and 283 boys.
At this time, too, there was an upheaval among some of the workers clamouring for more pay. They conducted protests on the compound.
Sr Gloria held on until 1967. Many of the past boys and girls remember her with love and affection and had kept in touch with her.
Sr Gloria needed to refresh herself after this arduous task and so she spent some time in the Rosary Monastery; and the Contemplative Monastery in Lufkin, USA.
On her return to Trinidad, she was once more ready for any task given to her.
1975 – 1976: A year spent at the Catholic Chaplaincy, UWI
1976 – 1979: Retreat House, Point Fortin (She was a real source of inspiration)
1979 – 1981: Delaford, Tobago (interreligious project)
1981 – 1989: Another stint at the Retreat House in Point Fortin
1989 – 1993: Off to the cold, the Caribbean Centre, Toronto, Canada
In 1993, on her return home, she joined the Dominican community in Arima (Calvary Hill). Soon though, she was asked to join the Novitiate community in Gran Couva which she willingly did. This great Dominican was always ready to go when the call for service came.
But illness came upon her like a thief in the night. After a few short weeks of wondering what might be wrong she returned to the Convent on Calvary Hill, Arima to facilitate care and doctor’s visits.
Alas, within a few days she heard the voice of her beloved Jesus calling in the very words of a song she had written many years ago at the School of Liturgy.
“Come now my Beloved the hour draws nigh
The dark clouds are lifted, bright rays pierce your sky
No more shall the shadows of life dim your way
My Spirit will guide you and brighten each day” (#196 Caribbean Worship & Song)
At the age of 93 and 71 years of Religious life, Sr Gloria Maria Laurie passed away peacefully at the Dominican Convent on Calvary Hill, Arima on March 16.
May she rest in peace.