Sister Arlene died peacefully on May 24, 2022, at the age of 92. She was a member of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa residing at Our Lady of Providence Residential Care Facility in Winooski, Vermont.
Arlene was born in Hamburg, New York on March 31, 1930. She was predeceased by her parents: her father, William Gates, and her mother, Margaret K Schmitt Gates and by three of her sisters Sr. Jane Gates MMS, Sr. Kathryn Gates SBS, Clare Savin and her brother William Gates Jr.
In addition to her sisters in religion, she is survived by her sisters, Dorothy Ziccarelli, Eleanor Matarazzo, Mary Barnes and 16 nieces and nephews.
Arlene received her early education in Hamburg at Sts. Peter and Paul and at Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo. Prior to joining the Missionary Sisters, she had experience as a third-grade teacher and for several summers she worked on a farm where she was very interested in scientific methods of farming.
She joined the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in 1949 and after her religious profession she continued studies in Algiers, North Africa and Liverpool, England. At various times throughout her missionary life Sister Arlene took time for religious and professional courses and renewal programs.
Her mission experience was primarily in East Africa—in Uganda she began by teaching English, Math, Religion and Music in a girls’ High School.
With her many gifts she spent much of her missionary life in formation houses for the younger members and in administration. She was appointed local superior in many of our communities: in the USA, in Africa and even in Rome. She was named pro-provincial, of the small USA region that was on its way to becoming a province and later appointed as provincial superior. During a General Chapter, she was chosen as a member of the general council and later she remained at the generalate as secretary general.
She served as mistress of postulants in the USA and later, on the postulate formation team in Uganda. Arlene was one of the founders of the House of Prayer in Kisii, Kenya. She loved guiding people in retreats and prayer. She also gave sessions to the sisters of African Congregations.
She was also very interested and got involved in Interfaith dialogue, especially in Uganda. Later, in Montreal, she was happy to continue this apostolate by working with the Missionaries of Africa in the “Afrika Center” serving new arrivals in Canada. She was always very interested in all that concerned peace and justice and she participated in many events. She has also been involved with the Africa Faith and Justice Network.
In 2009, Arlene moved to Our Lady of Providence, Winooski to join her MSOLA community. Here, she kept an interest in all that was going on around her, and all that was happening in Africa; keeping in touch with family, friends and making new friends. She was very involved in the Winooski Peace Initiative and the O’Brien Community Center. The Friday morning coffee hour there was very important for her, as well as speaking out against the presence of “war planes” in our area.
Her love for gardening flourished during these years, as she supervised the care of the vegetable garden and house plants. She was very happy to take over the care of the chapel when the Sisters of Providence left Our Lady of Providence in 2019.
It was at the time of COVID that she started having serious memory problems and other illnesses which she bore bravely right to the end.
The Missionary Sisters wish to thank the staff at Our Lady of Providence and those of the University of Vermont Home Health and Hospice who have so graciously cared for her during the last months of her illness.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by LaVigne Funeral Home, 132 Main St., Winooski. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated privately on Friday June 3, at 10.30 in the Chapel at Our Lady of Providence for Sister Arlene and Sister Beverly Lacayo, also a MSOLA who passed away five days before Arlene. Interment will follow in St. Francis Xavier cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Sister Arlene’s memory may be made to the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, in support of their ministries in Africa. c/o Sister Marie Heintz Our Lady of Providence Residential Care Facility 47 West Spring St. Winooski VT 05404-1397