Gertrude Conway has a routine, first the candles, then the books, then she opens the door, next she fixes the ribbons on the pews. She runs a tight ship at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brooklyn Heights.
“I always want it to look beautiful, I don’t need any help, I do it myself, people coming in if they see the pews strewn with books and things they get the wrong impression, they think we don’t care and we do care,” she said.
She’s been doing this volunteer work for decades, Pastor, Father Mark Amatrucola says she’s the lifeblood of the parish.
“Gertrude is at the center of everything we do, this is very much her home and her family and feels welcome here and is always willing to give her all,” he said.
And age definitely hasn’t slowed her down, in a few weeks she’ll be 100 and as her milestone birthday fast approaches, Gertrude says she’s always found comfort in consistency. The world around her is ever changing, but she stays the same.
“I could go tomorrow or I could go a couple of years from now, only God knows and I don’t plan on it, I don’t sit and worry about it, I don’t give it a second thought, I just get up in the morning and do the same thing I did yesterday. I’m the same today as I was 50 years ago, haven’t changed at all,” she said.
Over the years she hasn’t lost her spark – her passion lies right here with her in the pews of her parish.”I love my faith because it’s done so much for me, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my faith, I always joke I say what I do here in the church, I’m working my way to heaven it’s the only way I’ll get there,” she said.
You won’t find her front and center at mass, she sits in the back, alone with her prayers.
“There’s a real special, humble nature about who she is and knowing she’s seen a lot in her life but is always full of joy and good spirit for this place,” said Fr. Mark.
“God and the Blessed Mother have been very, very good to me and I feel like what little I can do is thank you,” Gertrude said.
When it comes to Gertrude’s faith, it’s not part of her routine – it’s who she is.