Sisters and Associates in Botswana pay tribute to Mary Virginia (Tootsie) Gish, SCNA

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, SCN Associates, and all those who knew Mary Virginia (Tootsie) Gish SCNA in Botswana were shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of their dear friend. Tootsie volunteered as a missionary in Botswana from 2006 to 2014. Loved by Botswana’s people, she freely entered into their lives, especially the poor and the oppressed. Tootsie attracted many people by her simplicity and friendliness.

Tootsie was a woman of faith and trusted in God. She lived a simple life with a minimum of possessions. She was very gifted and freely shared those gifts with all. She helped the SCNs, Associates, and preschool teachers with her skills in teaching and computer technology. She enjoyed cooking and volunteered to Brai (grill) in many gatherings, especially during the annual Easter Picnic for the Diocese priests and religious. The people of Ntlhantlhe village, where she ministered at a village preschool during her years in Botswana, will always remember her dedicated service to bring up the pre-school there. She also had a vital role in initiating the SCN Associate program in Botswana. 

Before she left Botswana in Feb. 2014, she told the SCNs, “I feel as if I re-joined the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.” She said the community spirit and unity touched her among the SCNs in Botswana, and she felt at home, and she would always cherish her time in Botswana. 

Tootsie loved Botswana, and she revisited Botswana in March through April 2019 to celebrate her 75th Birthday. A treat she gave to herself. SCNs and Associates made it very memorable for her as they gathered to celebrate her birthday in anticipation. They had lots of fun and laughter and enjoyed the time together. All were delighted to have Tootsie back for a couple of weeks. On her return to the US, she told her friends, “this was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.” 

After hearing her departure from this world, SCNs and Associates in Botswana gathered in small groups in their geographical locations, to comply with the COVID-19 regulations, for memorial services and thanksgiving Eucharists. In their small groups, all SCNs and Associates recalled their fond memories of Tootsie’s life.

“Our dear Tootsie, though you are not with us, you will always live in our memories. May your soul rest in peace.”

SCNs and Associates in Botswana