Sister Giovanni was born Anna McCormack in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, in 1929. One of seven girls, her family moved back to Ballynacorgy, Co. Westmeath while she was very young. She attended her early education with the Mercy Sisters and trained as a confectioner. She joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1952.
After profession she worked in central stores in the IMTH in Drogheda for ten years and in the stamp department.
She was noted for being efficient and thorough, keeping everything in good order. She then trained as an occupational therapist in Exeter, England and completed a Montessori course. After experience in England and in Cappagh, Dublin, she was well equipped for her next assignment..
Giovanni went to Nigeria in 1972 and spent almost twenty-four years in Ogoja. There she worked in the rehabilitation of countless adults and children affected by Hansen’s disease (leprosy), polio, and many other disabling conditions. She helped many with disabilities to start their own businesses so that they could be self-reliant.
Sister Giovanni returned to Ireland in 1996 and lived in the Motherhouse community. She served in community leadership for six years. She also obtained a certificate in pastoral liturgy in Maynooth.
In 2007, failing health made it necessary for her to move to the nursing facility, Áras Mhuire. She had a long illness and suffered greatly during that time, with the gradual loss of independence and the inability to do the many things for which she was gifted. Known to the staff in Áras Mhuire as ‘Geo’, she had a quiet and gentle disposition. She was very creative, with a love of nature, plants and flowers, and loved to share her interests.
As a confectioner, she had a gift for making and decorating cakes for every occasion. She liked to concentrate and work alone without interruption. She also loved clothes and her clothes were co-ordinated even hanging in the wardrobe!
Sister Giovanni was also firm in what she wanted. The Áras Mhuire staff jokingly relate how sometimes in the mornings she would hold on tight to her bed and refuse to get up. She knew her body needed the extra rest.
She died peacefully in the presence of her sister, Alice, her niece, Sinead, MMM Sisters and Áras Mhuire staff on 16 November 2015.