Sister Gertrude Pena, O.P.
Sister M. Gertrude Pena, O.P.
Sister Gertrude was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. She grew up the youngest of 10 children living and working on the family farm. She attended the Little Yellow Schoolhouse next door.
Sister Gertrude recalls knowing that there was something great about church but to young to understand who God was. At age eleven she told her Aunt Lena when she wanted to be a sister just like two of her cousins, Sister Emerita Pena and Sister Celestine Pena. In June of 1946 Sister Gertrude entered the Sacred Heart convent and in 1953 made her Final Profession.
In 1949 Sister Gertrude promised her first vows and was given her first assignment where she taught at Sacred Heart School in Galveston. She loved it. She recalls the six years she spent there as “really wonderful years”.
In 1953 she made her final profession and was sent to teach in Austin, Texas at St. Austin Catholic School. Sister Gertrude went on to teach at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California and Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California.
It was during her years at Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino where she teamed up with Sister Mary Peter Tremonteand started teaching art after school. After this great experience she discovered her own gift in the arts and she claimed it. Sister Gertrude continued her study of children’s art at the San Diego College for Women in San Diego, California.
On her return to Texas she began working as an art teacher and did so for twelve years in numerous schools. “I had the time of my life teaching art to little children, teaching them to appreciate themselves and what they could do with those tiny little fingers.”
When asked about what it has meant to her to be part of the Dominican Community, she spoke lovingly of the other Sisters, the time they spend together and the work they have done in the community together. “You know you are not the only one believing, worshipping and working toward the same goals.”
Sister Gertrude currently lives at St. Dominic Villa and her hobby list is still expanding.
Interview with Sister Gertrude Pena, O.P. on November 22, 2013.