“Nothing in life could be better than having a close family.”
2008 Woman of Faith keeps widening her circle of love
Incredible things can happen to people who are part of Gert Arndorfer’s world. They feel special in her eyes and they learn that the circle of love for family and friends always has room for one more — and then one more. The circle just keeps expanding because of Gert’s kind and generous heart.
As the parents of 12 children, Gert and her late husband Fran needed lots of faith and a sense of humor. One of her great blessings today is how much her children and their children love one another and want to be together. “Nothing in life could be better than having a close family,” she explained. Her faith and strength have enabled the family to endure the loss of a dear husband, a baby daughter and two sons.
Gert lives in a Tivoli Terrace assisted living apartment at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus. She has the capacity to make any place seem like home and a cozy neighborhood. There her sewing machine has a stack of clothes from residents and friends waiting to be mended or altered. If you attempt to pay her, she asks for a Hail Mary. A busy birdfeeder outside her window witnesses that even the birds feel safe and welcome. Gert’s quiet evenings are spent knitting caps for newborn infants. She also has a steady stream of children, grands, great-grands and friends who know how deeply she cares about them and how knowledgeable she is about life and current events.
“I feel so blessed to be at St. Anne’s. Several years ago, I decided it was time, and I love it here,” she says.
Sister Elaine Czarnezki, SDS, nominated Gert for the Salvatorian Sisters’ 2008 Woman of Faith Award. Gert’s family and friends sent beautiful, touching letters as well. As Sr. Elaine pointed out, Gert raised her own family while caring for more than 35 foster babies.
“Her six years of working in Catholic Social Services made her very conscious of and concerned for the infants and their mothers. She went to Misericordia Hospital to pick up the babies and nurtured them as her own. Gert felt sadness as she parted with each child who moved on to an adoptive home,” Sr. Elaine stated. But Gert also recalls how gratifying it was to give a baby to loving adoptive parents. “One just danced with the baby in her arms and thanked me again and again. I dearly loved taking care of those babies.”
One family member said, “Gert has to this day a sense of humor that brings us all to our knees. But the biggest thing I have learned from her is her deep and abiding faith in God, through thick and thin. She never questions the will of God, but accepts what comes with calmness and peace. She has taught all of us lessons that will sustain us in the years ahead.” For many, she is the best teacher they ever had, hands down.
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