Was it Shakespeare who said that the good men do lives after them? Then the legacy of Sr. Wilbert, who taught English and Religion at IWA during the ‘60s, is still going strong in the person of Virginia (better known as Ree) Dailey Gerdes, this year’s Hall of Fame honoree for Parish Ministry. Ree is a devoted wife and mother, a staunch friend, a parish minister extraordinaire. For the past 28 years, Ree has been touching the lives of hundreds of children from 3 years old to 8th grade, their catechists, teachers and parents, in her role as Director of Religious Education at Holy Spirit Parish (formerly St. Blaise) in Maryland Heights. Ree says that she has prepared 27 classes of children for their First Communion and Reconciliation sacraments and 25 classes for the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation; she has worked closely with adults coming into the Church through RCIA for the past 10 years. In addition, she has planned hundreds of liturgies, prayer services and retreats, and coordinated the Liturgy of the Word for Children ministry.
Presently, Ree is the administrator for the Parish School of Religion program at Holy Spirit Parish--one of the largest in the archdiocese. As mentor to myriads of parish ministers across the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Ree has given numerous presentations to teachers and catechists at Archdiocesan institutes and to educators and ministers at NCEA conventions and NPCD convocations. She is a member of the Religion Council of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and was on the committee that established the Religious Education Standard for the Archdiocese. In 1994, the Archdiocese recognized Ree’s parish contributions by presenting the parish with the Parish as Catechist/Religious Education Award, and in 1998, the NCEA/NPCD honored Ree with its Religious Education Excellence Award during its annual meeting in Los Angeles. Ree says that her family "is the core of my life." She has been married to her husband, Jim, for 41 years and is blessed with four wonderful children (Laura, ’88, Tracy, ’93, Katie, ’03 and Jim) and eleven grandchildren—and a twelfth due in March. "We love getting together as a family to laugh, and Jim and I love to babysit."