June 13, 1928 - May 20, 2014
Can’t you just envision a tall- framed woman, with soft gray hair, possessing a broad smile, focusing a twinkling eye at us this morning! We know this woman to be Sister Maria Delaney – the loving sister to Clare, aunt to her four beloved nephews and their wives, a grand aunt to her grandnieces and grandnephews, and a Sister of St. Joseph, which we, her CSJ Sisters greatly loved and deeply admired.
So many facets of Sister Maria’s life have been mentioned during these past days since she was summoned so silently by God on the morning of May 20th to her eternal reward. Sister Maria Delaney was a religious woman who was deeply enfleshed with the love of God that she showered her gifts and spirituality to all she encountered during her life.
Mary Ann Delaney entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on September 8, 1947. From her earliest years as a Sister of St Joseph, Sister Maria Delaney blended the CSJ mission with her gifts of relationship and ministry. She ministered as teacher to elementary and secondary school students, in leadership as Principal, and by election, to serve as an Area Councilor for the Congregation. Sister Maria manifested a deep belief in the words of today’s Gospel. You are a “friend of Jesus Christ rather than a servant” with her awareness of being “chosen by God to go forth and bear fruit”. This certainly was who Sister Maria was as a Sister of St. Joseph.
A global- style education was a pivotal part of Sister Maria’s life. Not only was she acknowledged as a creative and interesting teacher, but her leadership style was also greatly acclaimed. As Principal of St. Mary School in Brookline, Sister Maria was affirmed for her dynamism and energy in working with the school community, and her recognition of the plurality of cultures within the school that demanded the importance of high standard academics in the educational process.
Maria’s determination to serve the “dear neighbor “ concurrent with her high standards for student learning was manifest throughout her career as a teacher at St. Agnes School, Mount St. Joseph Academy, Fontbonne Academy, Regis College and later at the Jackson School. During one of her teaching years at the Mount, Sister Maria organized a Mission Day and raised a large sum of money. This was sent to New Mexico to assist our Sisters who were beginning to establish a women’s shelter in Santa Fe. Recognizing the need for summer activity for young children, Sister Maria organized Camp St. Joseph at Jackson School. Through her leadership, Sister Maria accompanied by other Sisters of St. Joseph, programmed a Summer Camp for the students of the Jackson School for nine years. I am sure the young children delighted in the educational and artistic skills taught to them, with Sr. Maria smiling at their ability, as they also witnessed the talents of the other Sisters who worked at the Camp in such an extraordinary way.
In 1962 Sister Maria was the recipient of the NDEA Foreign Language Institute at Notre Dame University. The following year she received a Fulbright Scholarship that enabled her to study in France. This resulted in many students at Mount St. Joseph Academy, Fontbonne Academy, Sisters of St. Joseph at Regis College/ Framingham Campus having the privilege and joy of having Sister Maria as their French Teacher… and I was blessed to be one of those students! Sister not only gave us the basics of the French language, but she manifested such a love for it that many students have carried this throughout their life.
Living in community with Sister Maria was pure delight. Sisters experienced the enjoyment in being in the company of this genial woman religious. Living with Sister Maria was full of peace, joy, laughter and love.
I am sure Clare experienced this great love with Sister Maria from their early years as they lived as siblings with their parents growing up in Roslindale. This, they continued into their adult years. Truly, Clare reciprocated this bond of love to Maria with her many visits accompanied by her four sons to all Sister Maria’s Convents. For the past years Clare has been greatly admired as a very faithful visitor to Sister Maria here at Bethany. Sister Maria’s entire family was deeply precious to her. Visitors to Sister Maria on the third floor at Bethany could easily recognize this from the many family pictures that were displayed in her room.
Our Constitution states: “Stimulated by the Holy Spirit of Love, and receptive to its inspiration, the Sister of St. Joseph moves always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction”. Sister Maria Delaney did that in her lifetime. She moved in the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. She knew she was “endowed with God’s Spirit.” All with whom she came into contact felt the compassionate, loving spirit within her. The implementation of the ingenuity of Sister Maria’s talents and her creativity did produce many activities and deeds for the people with whom she served and ministered.
Within her own heart I believe Sister Maria felt the movement of the Spirit, particularly when her physical stamina seemed to weaken. She accepted the change of residence from Maria Convent to Bethany Health Care Center and acquiesced to the ill health that she endured until May 20th. Indeed Sister Maria Delaney mirrored St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Sister Maria Delaney knew the “peace of God in herheart”, she was always thankful. She allowed the “message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home in her”.
Sister Maria, we celebrate and give thanks for your life as a Sister of St. Joseph. You truly lived out the reading of our Constitution: “We strive in every aspect of our lives to be for others a visible sign of God’s active and inclusive love.”
Gail Donahue, CSJ