Sr. Constance GemmeJuly 1, 1932 ~ July 15, 2017 (age 85)
Sister Constance Gemme, Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, 85 of Holyoke passed away peacefully surrounded by her family and members of her community on July 15, 2017. Born in Worcester, Ma. July 1, 1932, she was the daughter of the late Henry W. Sr. and Clara (Bolduc ) Gemme of Worcester,Ma. In addition to her Sisters in her Religious community she is survived by her sisters, Anne M. Berthiaume of Holyoke, Ma. and Lorraine T. Boucher of Atkinson N.H.,her brothers Henry W. Gemme Jr. (Claire) and George J. Gemme (Anna) and her sisters in law Yvette Gemme Brodeur and Anne Gemme all of Auburn Ma. and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her siblings Irene C. Gemme, Sister Irena (Theresa) Gemme MSOLA, Leon H. Gemme, William H. Gemme, Lillian A. Boisvert, Claire Sevigny, Sister Marguerite Gemme MSOLA, and William P. Gemme. Sister Connie heard the call to Religious life in her early years. She was inspired to join the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) by the example of her older sister, Sister Irena (Theresa) Gemme. She entered the congregation of MSOLA in April 1953. She graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1959 and learned midwifery in Ottawa, Canada. In the early 1960’s, Sister Connie made her way to Algiers Africa to Burkina Faso and ultimately to Ghana, where she lived out the majority of her missionary calling until 2004. During her years in Ghana, she served as Matron of Navrongo and Nandom Hospitals, as well as Executive Secretary of the Diocesan Health Committee in Tamale. Sister Connie cared full time for her ailing mother in Worcester from 1980-1985 during which time she served at her home parish as Eucharistic Minister, Chorister and folk group guitarist among other roles. During this time she also earned an undergraduate degree in Libral Arts and a graduate degree in Pastoral Counceling from Worcester State College and Assumption College. She also enjoyed art classes at the Worcester Art Museum where she specialized in creating portraits in charcoal, oil and pastels. Back in Ghana in the early 1990’s she ministered to prisioners and street children. She founded the Collaboration with Women in Distress (COLWOD) in 1995, addressing the prostitution problem in Tamale and raising the standard of African Women. COLWOD trained African women in income-generating skills such as sewing,batik and tie-dying. In 1995 she began traveling throughout Ghana, raising awareness about human trafficking. She departed Ghana for the last time in 2004, and continued her work in the U.S. raising awareness about modern day slavery in churches, schools women’s groups through various media. The Constance Gemme Rescue Home from Human Trafficking was established in Ghana in the early 2000’s. After retirement, she resided in Holyoke and she was active in pro-life activities in Springfield, as well as fundraising for the Shriners Hospital. Sister Connie’s dedication to her calling and her kind manner were an inspiration to all who knew her. Her sense of humor and joie de vivre will be greatly missed. A Celebration of life will be held at Providence Place in Our Mother of Sorrows Chapel , 5 Gamelin St. Holyoke Ma. 01040 on Thursday July 20th from 1-2 p.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial to begin at 2 p.m. followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery Brightside. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, 5 Gamelin St. Holyoke Ma. 01040 Apt.340 or to a charity of choice.