In 1990, Sr Gemma Pearson began her ministry in a similar way with responsibility for the bookstall at St Patrick’s and pastoral care. Gemma’s relationship with the people of Millers Point was different in that her family had resided there since the early 1900s and she had lived within the parish until she entered the convent with the Marist sisters. ( She was and is affectionately known by many as ‘Marie’)
Gemma worked closely with the people as advocate for their needs and in 1994 felt that she could do this more effectively by living in their midst. And so the Marist Sisters gave permission for her to move into the area. Her High Street home became a place of welcome, open to parishioners and those in need – a warm attractive home, particularly because of the flowers. One resident said “The sisters live where the flowers are”. This insertion in the local scene enabled Gemma to respond to a need for a Breakfast Programme for children. With the support of a group of very willing helpers she established St Brigid’s Breakfast Club, not only meeting immediate needs but forging bonds that would last, with the children, the helpers and benefactors. Gemma also began a programme of teaching English as a second language, this was particularly helpful for a few parishioners who through their involvement in the classes began to see themselves as members of the community. For about 12 years Gemma taught Catechetics at Fort Street Primary School and prepared children for the Sacraments. Her relationship with the school from the very beginning was warm and welcoming and she loved the children.
Gemma acted as pastoral leader with St Brigid’s Church Committee in the different aspects af parish life eg liturgy, music, funerals, and celebratory gatherings which brought the St Brigid’s people into close community. In the wider local area Gemma was also appreciated and honoured for her work for which she received a Premier’s Award for care of the aged, and a Rotary Award, on the occasion of their Centenary, for her service to the community. In 2009, after almost 20 years of ministering to and with the people of St Brigid’s, Gemma said ‘goodbye’ to this work and ‘au revoir’ to the people whom she loved so much.