Sr. Maria of the Cross (1937-2012)



Sister Maria of the Cross Gennaro, O.P., of the Dominican Nuns, Summit, N.J., entered eternal rest at St. Catherine's Infirmary, Caldwell, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, at the age of 75. Sr. Maria was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 3, 1937, to Dr. Joseph and Alice Gennaro. She felt called to religious life at a very early age. She graduated from St. Angela Hall Academy, Brooklyn, and attended Marywood College, Scranton, Pa., for a year before entering the monastery on Sept. 8, 1956. Sister made first profession on March 25, 1958, and became a solemnly professed nun of the Order on March 25, 1961. During her more than 56 years at the Rosary Shrine, she has blessed the community with splendid artistic and musical talents; painting two murals, sketching the designs for five bas reliefs, directing the liturgical music and compiling a highly respected Catholic hymnal, the Summit choir book. She was also a very accomplished organist. For many years, Sr. Maria had generously and tirelessly cared for the sick and the dying as community infirmarian but she will perhaps best be remembered for her compassionate manner, listening ear and fun- loving spirit, regaling the Sisters with folk dances, square dances and festive songs of myriad varieties and languages. (From the official Obituary)
"While Sr. Maria was talented in many different areas, she will always be most known for The Summit Choirbook, a 15 year labor of love. Sr. Maria also wrote numerous Mass ordinaries. She adapted the entire Dominican rite gradual for chanting in English as well as an adaptation of the antiphonarium. She composed music specifically for singing in English for the Sacred Triduum, Easter Sunday and the Easter Octave, drawing on the chants used for the Latin texts in the Dominican rite. This is what is used at our monastery but has never been published. She translated and wrote her own arrangements for a collection of Polish hymns for the liturgical year–The John Paul II Songbook. This book is also used by the monastery but was never published because Sr. Maria always said it wasn’t complete. Sr. Maria wrote three different sets of psalms tones for use at the Office. Her first set, written around 1967 is used by several Dominican monasteries along with the antiphons of Sr. Mary of the Pure Heart, OP, (RIP) West Springfield, MA. Sr. Maria of the Cross had a great love for the chant and for the chants of the Ukrainian rite and taught our community to sing these as well.
Her ability to write music as she heard it was something we tended to take for granted! If the community was watching a Papal Mass and she was struck by the responsorial psalm, or alleluia or a hymn she would grab some manuscript paper and begin scribbling a first draft and nothing could get her more exasperated than when the commentator would start talking and she couldn’t hear!
Sr. Maria was also a gifted translator. She could speak French but also translate from Polish, Italian, French, and Spanish. She began learning Hebrew in the last 15 years of her life.
Sr. Maria had a great love for the simple things of life: books, cats, flowers, Sabina our dog. She was always grateful for things the sisters did and would show gratitude and enthusiasm and if she didn’t like whatever it is, she would still be encouraging and wouldn’t let on that it wasn’t something she was particularly fond of, say for example, something you were cooking.
Sister had a great love of the Rosary, particularly the 54 day novena. If you were going through some difficulty she would say, “I’ll pray a 54 day novena for you!” She was a sympathetic listener and people who called or came to the parlor while she was on turn duty found comfort in her ability to listen and her promise of prayers.
Please remember our Sr. Maria of the Cross in your prayers."
Wake is Sept. 29 from 12 noon until 7 p.m. and Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. 
The Funeral Mass will be Monday, Oct. 1, at 10:30 a.m.
All services are at the Rosary Shrine, 543 Springfield Ave., Summit, NJ, USA.