Sister M. Sophia Galm, 91, a Sister of the Redeemer who was called by God to be a healing presence in a hurting world, died while in hospice care at St. Joseph Manor on June 20, 2022. Raised in Kirchzell, Germany, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Helene Galm. She is survived by her sister Maria Worner and extended family in Germany. As a child living in Germany during World War II, Sr. Sophia witnessed heartache and destruction that most cannot even imagine. Despite the trauma she experienced as a young girl in her war-ravaged homeland, she lived her vocation to “Finden Gott in Allen” or “Find God in Everyone.”
Last fall, Sr. Sophia celebrated 65 years of religious profession. She professed her first vows as a Sister of the Redeemer in 1956, in Wurzburg, Germany, part of the international Congregation she would later join in the United States. As a young Sister, she trained as a nurse at the University of Wurzburg, eventually working as an operating room nurse at a dental clinic.
Since arriving in the United States in 1963, Sr. Sophia lived a dedicated life as a nurse for many years, initially in Holy Redeemer Hospital’s operating rooms from 1963 to 1972 and later at St. Joseph Manor, where she served as Director of Nursing from 1972 to 1979. She said of her vocation to nursing, “I feel like it’s a privilege to be a nurse. It is fulfilling and for me is all the happiness I need.”
After completing the International Religious Formation program at St. Louis University in 1980 in preparation for formation ministry, Sr. Sophia served her Congregation as Novice Director and later as Superior of the Angelus Formation Community for 10 years, working closely with and directing young Sisters. Changing an age-old tradition, Sr. Sophia moved the Novitiate out of the Provincialate in Meadowbrook and into a house in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. She believed the move would allow the novices to connect more with the people in the neighborhood and not be artificially separated by geography. Moving the Novitiate was the beginning of the Sisters’ longstanding involvement with St. Francis Inn as Sr. Sophia and the novices regularly served at the Inn and the overnight shelter.
While at St. Louis University, Sr. Sophia first had the inspiration for what would later become the Congregation’s Redeemer Associates program. Like Blessed Alphonse Maria Eppinger, Founder of the Sisters of the Redeemer, she believed that God’s call to be a healing presence extended beyond the Sisters and that only through the connection with laity can God’s love and the Charism of the Congregation have an even greater reach. In 1997, Sr. Sophia was asked by her Congregation to serve as the inaugural Director of the newly-formed Redeemer Associates. Today, Redeemer Associates has more than 80 members in four states serving with the Sisters as lay partners in mission through shared community, prayer, and ministry.
Influenced by her experience with the International Religious Formation program, which was made up of religious formators from all over the world, Sr. Sophia was the first Sister of the Redeemer from the United States to initiate visits to the Sisters serving in Tanzania. Sisters of the Redeemer have been serving in Tanzania since 1957 when Sisters from the Congregational Motherhouse in Germany were first requested by their bishop to serve there. Since Sr. Sophia’s first trip, a tradition was created and most all the Sisters from the United States have followed in her footsteps through visits to Tanzania.
Sr. Sophia continued serving in many capacities within Holy Redeemer Health System, now Redeemer Health, over the years, including roles on the Board of Directors for both Holy Redeemer Hospital and St. Joseph Manor. Most recently, she served as a Sister Sponsor Liaison at Holy Redeemer Hospital and St. Joseph Manor. She found great joy in meeting and forming friendships with staff, patients, and residents, particularly the elderly. “There is a great need for those who love the elderly to help provide them with the care they require, and I feel this deeply. You know, you get your reward in life immediately when you care for the elderly. They are so appreciative,” she once said.
She resided with the Congregation’s Epiphany Community in Magnificat Center in the Sisters’ former Provincialate, now Spark! Transformation Center. She was often seen walking the grounds greeting everyone she encountered with a smile and conversation. Even with limited eyesight in her later years, she found hope and joy in the beauty of God’s creation all around her.
Viewing and visitation will take place on Friday, June 24, 2022 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel. A prayer service to celebrate and remember Sr. Sophia will begin at 7:30 p.m. Viewing and visitation will also take place 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, 2022, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Those wishing to make a contribution to the Sisters’ charitable works in memory of Sr. Sophia, can do so online or by mail. (Sisters of the Redeemer, 1600 Huntingdon Pike, Meadowbrook, Pa. 19046)