Little Sister Gertrud Vavine...her life and witness in Papua New Guinea

Little sister Gertrude Vavine of Jesus died on October 20th, at the Home of the Handmaids of the Lord in the town of Boroko/Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, where she had been living and cared for since 2019.

Gertrud  with the Handmaids of the LordGertrud with the Handmaids of the Lord
She was the only Papuan little sister. She joined the Little Sisters in 1964, 10 years after the foundation of our first community in her country in 1954, and remained alone after its closing in 1991.

In deep communion with the little sisters who have known her, with her Beloved people, with the Handmaids of the Lord who so generously cared for her, and with us all.

A little sister from England, Catharine, writes about how she was touched by the life and witness of Gertrud:.

Little sister Magdeleine and the novices in Tre Fonane 1965Little sister Magdeleine and the novices in Tre Fonane 1965
'I have always had a great affection for Little sister Gertrude Vavine. Together we were part of the international noviciate In Tre Fontane in 1965 with Little sister Cecile Raymonde -11 novices from 11 different countries and the five continents. It was a big gift for me to be part of this noviciate. We shared deeply together but it was never a question of wordy discussions but rather a building up of a genuine friendship and an appreciation of each other from the heart, each one unique - a learning in life what it means to be an international family.

As a member of the General team in Tre Fontane, I visited Papua New Guinea in April 1976 when there were still two communities, one in Hanuabada and the other in Lae, and my friendship with Gertrude was renewed.

Gertrude was so completely one of her people and at the same time completely a Little sister. I remember her sitting with the neighbours sharing with them the news as it arrived from Little sisters around the world. Everyone was happy especially when she read to them the diaries from different continents…Gertrude belonged to a double family….

I also remember going to the river with her and wading in, fully dressed, up to our waists and collecting sea food. Her enthusiasm and joy in the small events of life was catching.

While in Lae we had Mass. I will never forget either the colourful language of the new translation of the Gospels in Pidgeon. I experienced both a freedom and the strength of expression. A genuineness rooted in the real life of the people, corresponded to the life I was sharing with the Little sisters there.

Especially in Lae, in our neighbourhood called the Bumbu, life was not easy every day. The people living there came from different Regions in New Guinea who had different customs and ways of living. Gertrude was at home with them all and spent a lot of time bringing people together and sorting out differences. She was a peace-maker.

Thank you Gertrude for continuing to the end to be a Little sister of Jesus and also my Little sister.

Catharine lsj