Retirement isn’t easy for
-- even at 92
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Gertrude Jones lives in defiance of the laws of physics.
Even as it was announced a few weeks ago that she would be retiring as sacristan at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she was fulfilling a marathon of duties. A typical weekend could include preparing for a wedding in the afternoon, serving as a Eucharistic Minister at a 5 p.m. Mass, and then preparing for a 7 p.m. Spanish Mass.
And that’s just on Saturday.
Gertrude does everything from watering plants, to washing robes and vestments, to preparing the bread and wine. After a recent Mass, she could be seen pulling large, wooden chairs up the ramp to the altar, where she set them up for the next celebration.
Gertrude just turned 92, but for those not in the know, the number is not to be believed. Seventy-five, maybe, they would guess. Eighty? She looks good for 80, might be another guess.
Although she accepts that there are difficulties that become larger in scope with age, such as traveling the harsh winter roads, after serving for so long and having put in so many hours, she admitted that she wonders what she’s going to do with the extra time.
Gertrude’s husband, Leonard, died in 1979. The couple had six children. The great- grandmother has served the Guadalupe parish since before the new structure was built in 2001. It’s an odd day indeed when one walks into the giant doors of the cathedral, and Gertrude is nowhere to be found.
She has often arrived early enough to watch the sunrise from a window adjacent to the sacristy. Having lived in Kansas for 50 years, she said in a previous interview that she sometimes still misses the rolling tree-covered hills and meandering rivers of the upstate New York town in which she was reared.
Director of Religious Education Norma Alvarez said that Gertrude “put so many hours and so much energy into this church. We really need at least 10 people to cover what she was doing. Every funeral, she’s here; every wedding.
“She helped us a lot. A lot,” she stressed, “that’s for sure.”
“She kept everything in line,” commented parish secretary Patty Renteria. “She did so much.”
Over the years, Gertrude, a former nurse, has provided “health talks” and blood pressure checks to seniors trying to qualify for “Meals on Wheels.” She volunteered as a librarian at the genealogy library in Dodge City, helping people track down their family history.
At the 5 p.m. Mass Oct. 15, Gertrude was presented with a plaque by Father Ted Skalsky for her many years of service.
“Few people know the amount of work she did, and how much help she was in preparing for funerals, weddings and daily Masses,” said Father Skalsky
“She made sure that there was wine and hosts, linens, and candles. She made sure that we would have palms for Palm Sunday and ashes for Ash Wednesday. All of those things she tended to, and we are so appreciative to her.”