Sister Evelyn Gorges was born on January 31, 1900, and grew up on a farm near Colwich, Kansas, the sixth of 13 children of Matthias and Martha Girrens Gorges.
She was taught by the Adorers in the parish school through the elementary grades. At age 15, she traveled to Ruma, Illinois to enter the religious community there. After pronouncing her vows in 1917, she returned to the Central House of the community in Wichita, Kansas, and taught in the area schools for the next 16 years. She taught at St. John’s Academy and Sacred Heart College from 1933 to 1937, during which time she earned her bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays University and a master’s degree from Wichita State University.
Sister Evelyn Gorges was serving as the local superior at the provincial house in Wichita in 1937-38 when she was elected as one of the delegates to the General Council in Rome. She also was chosen as one of the General Councilors, a position she would fill until 1959. Soon after her election, World War II swept over Europe. Evelyn found herself “stranded in an alien enemy country.” She spoke of “almost nightly alarms, curfews, blackouts, the ever present threat of bombings, and the ugly face of war.”
Sheltering Jews in World War II
She recalled that convents in Rome would shelter Jews until they could flee the country safely. The Adorers were among those that opened their convent’s underground shelter to people needing shelter.
During the war, Sister Evelyn Gorges could not contact her religious community or her family for six years. After the war, in 1946, she flew to the States for her first home visit since 1938. Before returning to Rome, she went with Sister Julitta Elsen from Wichita to evaluate whether the Wichita Province should establish a mission along the Amazon River, and take over the work along the Xingu River that was being carried out by the Adorers from the Schaan Province.
Translating Maria de Mattias’ Letters
In addition to her work on the General Council, her major contribution to the U.S. community was translating two volumes of Maria de Mattias’ 900 letters and other documents of the community’s history.
Sister Evelyn Gorges helped American sisters understand world affairs and the evils of World War II.
Evelyn returned to Wichita in 1960, and spent the next 15 years as a professor of both German and Italian at Sacred Heart/Kansas Newman College. She served the residents of St. Ann’s Home for the Aged in Oklahoma City for three years, then returned to the Wichita provincialate and continued her pursuits in cultural, educational and social events, giving lessons in German and Italian, and continued her work of translating, notably the letters of John Merlini to Maria De Mattias.