Sister Marian Adrian recalled for being a force for good in Orleans County

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 7 January 2021 at 1:41 pm

‘Her heart was very much with the poor. She’d do anything for the poor.’

ALBION – The death of Sister Marian Adrian comes as a shock to those who knew her and a great loss to the community.

Sister Marian Adrian

The Orleans and Genesee County areas will remember Sister Marian as the advocate for migrant workers and a stout supporter of the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern.

Sister Dolores Dowd of Albion, a fellow sister of the Grey Nuns, called Sister Marian “a good and loyal friend.”

“Her heart was very much with the poor,” Sister Dolores said. “She’d do anything for the poor.”

Sister Marian died Dec. 14 at her retirement home in Philadelphia, where she moved in 2015 to join her sister Grey Nuns in retirement.

“Sister Marian was a passionate advocate for migrant workers and rural poor living in Orleans and Genesee counties, and was instrumental in the growth the development of the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern from the 1970s on,” said Nyla Gaylord, the current director of GOMOC. “As a Grey Nun, she frequently had the opportunity to speak at Catholic churches in the Buffalo area. The passion with which she spoke made an enduring impression on those who heard her and many responded by becoming faithful donors.

Gaylord spoke to Sister Marian on the phone just two weeks before her death to tell her about a donation GOMOC had received because of a talk Sister Marian had done years ago.

Nyla Gaylord, executive director of the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern, visits Sister Marian Adrian at her apartment near Philadelphia in 2017.

“She was so effective as a fundraiser,” Gaylord said. “She kept in touch with her students and was a great correspondent. More than 30 years ago she spoke at a church in Clarence, and one of the congregation who heard her just sent us a generous donation.”

Gaylord also shared a story about another $1,000 check they received from a man whose wife had just died. In going through her checkbook, he found she had been supporting the Ministry of Concern, so he sent another check in his wife’s memory.

“Sister Marian was a perfect example of the Bible verse in John 4:37, which reads, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ We are reaping today the seeds she sowed, which is enabling Ministry of Concern to continue its work.”

A wise investor, Sister Marian’s legacy gifts to the Ministry of Concern have established a strong foundation of resources that will help ensure the long-term continuation of this organization, Gaylord said.

Sister Marian was born in 1930 in Buffalo, an only child. She graduated from Holy Angels Academy, where she taught from 1954 to 1969. She earned a bachelor of arts in mathematics from D’Youville College in 1951, a master’s degree in philosophy from Catholic University in Washington, D.D. in 1960 and received her Ed D in science from Buffalo State in 1977. She held New York permanent certification in general science and physics, as well as mathematics. She is credited with several publications on science and relationships.

Sister Marian first came to Albion to visit and saw a child with no shoes walking in the snow. That touched her and set the path her life would follow. She became acquainted with the Rev. Tim Hoyt from Holley, who worked with migrant workers.

“She made a profound impact on people’s lives by sharing reality with them, particularly the young women at Holy Angels Academy,” Gaylord said.

Sister Marian started a summer mission program where the young ladies from Holy Angels would come to Albion to work with the migrants. This was before the War on Poverty and before any government funding for migrant workers. The young ladies who spent the summers here paid their own expenses.

Sister Marian was extraordinary for her time, Gaylord said. She taught math and science when women then didn’t go into those fields. She taught at Albion for 22 years and then became director of the GOMOC from 1991 to 2006. After stepping down as director, she supported the agency as director of development, director of communication and director of education, until retiring in 2006. She continued to volunteer for another year until her retirement.

As one of the founders of the Ministry of Concern, Sister Marian’s purpose was to give people “a hand-up rather than a hand-out.”

Gaylord called Sister Marian “an extraordinary woman who exemplified the mission of her order: “to be signs of God’s constant and unconditional love for every person.”

Sister Marian’s burial will be private due to restrictions caused by the pandemic. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Arrangements were completed by the Beck-Givnish Funeral Homes in Philadelphia.