Sister Providence Giammalvo said at a party marking her 100th birthday that she measured her life as a Dominican nun by her deeds and by the people she could bring to God.
She didn’t mention it at the time, but she also liked a nice root beer float now and then.
“We don’t only preach with our words, we preach by who we are, by the way we live our lives,” she said in a video shot by the grandson of a friend.
Asked by the 12-year-old interviewer, Gabriel Smith, whether she had ever performed a miracle, she first said she had not, but then reconsidered.
“I might say yes, but a different kind of miracle than you think,” she said. “I have helped people who were away from God by coming to God, who had a conversion . . . That’s a miracle, a miracle of God’s grace.”
Giammalvo died at age 101 on March 30 after 84 years as a Dominican Sister of Amityville, the religious order said. She had been a teacher in schools in Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens, and did parish outreach at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst.
She was born in Brooklyn, the youngest of seven daughters of Michael Giammalvo and Antonia Giammalvo. She attended the parish school, where she first met the Dominican Sisters of Amityville.
She received her habit on Aug. 16, 1933, and took the name Sister Antoinette Imelda. She took the vows of her order on Aug. 25, 1934.
She held a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in theology from St. John’s University in Queens.
In the 1970s, she studied the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which had modernized several aspects of Catholicism and allowed Mass to be celebrated in the local language instead of Latin.
That led her to return to the name she was baptized under, her order said.
In 1976, she joined the ministries at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Lindenhurst and spent 10 years visiting homes, holding prayer groups and performing other work.
She moved to the motherhouse in 1986, where she lived until her death. It was at the motherhouse where Gloria Petrone of Long Beach met Giammalvo about 15 years ago while attending a prayer session there.
“She became part of our family, came to our house for Christmas, Easter,” said Petrone, 72, a retired special education teacher.
Petrone’s grandson, who had moved with his family to Denver, returned to film the interview at a birthday party on Christmas Day 2015, two months after the nun’s 100th birthday.
“We live above the boardwalk in Long Beach and she loved the ocean,” Petrone said. “She told me at the party, ‘I would like once more to put my foot in the ocean.’ The lifeguards had said bring her down, but that was not to be.”
“She loved root beer floats,” Petrone said, remembering a few years ago when they sat on a bench facing the water in Lindenhurst, root beer floats in hand.
“She looked at it and said, ‘You know, God loves me very much.”
A Mass of Christian burial was held at the order’s motherhouse in Amityville on April 3, followed by the burial in the cemetery on its grounds.