September 10, 1922 - January 7, 2013
“Our life of prayer is a dynamic relationship with God, an ever increasing intimacy with the God who is the source and center of our lives.” These words are taken from our Constitution – the section on Prayer. I believe these words speak of the woman Sister Mary Mc Donald was and the importance of prayer in her life.
Sister Mary McDonald, formerly known in religion as Sister Martinian, lived a full and active life for 7 3 years as a Sister of St. Joseph. As a Sister of St. Joseph (Sister Martinian) began her career as a teacher in Catholic elementary education and climaxed her ministry with direct service to us- the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.
In the reading from our Constitutions – Spirit and Purpose it states “Responsive to the stirrings of the Spirit, we move into the future through rhythms of prayerful reflection, discernment and action”.Sister Mary Mc Donald lived that mandate. Throughout her ministry Sister discerned God’s direction in her ministry of Catholic education. Her academic instruction to her students formed their minds and gave them skills so they could reach their potential. Recognizing the lack of special education instruction within Catholic Schools, Sister Mary studied at colleges of higher education toward certification and proficiency in the field of Special Education. During her studies and being astute toward educational trends, Sister Mary was touched by an urge toward doing the “more”. Her recognition of the problematic, learning environment of the Chelsea School System resulted in Mary being the first religious woman to accept the invitation to utilize her knowledge and expertise as a Psychometric Specialist within the Chelsea School System. This was much to the benefit of the students placed in her care, and the faculty of the Special Education Department with whom she ministered. One of whose members has remained her close friend to this day.
Not afraid to embrace a different call from God and the Leadership of the Congregation, Sister Mary accepted the position as Assistant Administrator of Fontbonne Hall. Together with Sister Patricia Logan, they tirelessly provided a nurturing home and spiritual sanctuary for the many Sisters who resided there. When her time of service to the Fontbonne Community ended, Mary was recognized for her expertise and requested to return to the Shurtcliff School in Chelsea as School Psychologist.
Being keenly aware of God’s will for her, Mary answered the request from the Community Leadership again to return her gifts and talents to the Congregation. This time Sister Mary as asked to serve within the Treasurer’s Offices at the Motherhouse. One of Sister Mary’s tasks was to be in charge of the cars. It amazed me how many Sisters spoke of Mary’s solicitude and kindness in distributing cars to them both for necessity and in special circumstances. I am sure if the records of cars are reviewed Sister Mary Mc Donald’s accuracy in recording the car fleet data would be admired! As one of the quotes spoken from our foundress, Mother St. John Fontbonne states, “the Sister of St. Joseph performs ordinary tasks in extra ordinary ways”.
In her years spent here at Bethany Sister Mary’s physical condition weakened. Her love for family was evident as she often asked “take me home.” And I believe, there was some yearning inside of her to recognize those who loved her, particularly her friend of sixty eight years, Sister Mary Mills. In her lifetime Sister Mary McDonald was known as a kind, generous, woman religious, who always had time for others, and a woman as someone told me, “could hold her own”!
The word of God tells us in the letter to the Ephesians to praise God and recognize you are blessed in Christ. I believe Sister Mary McDonald knew this. Isaiah speaks about the people who stream toward the mountain of God for instruction in God’s Ways. I believe Sister Mary climbed that mountain many times, and found how she could walk in God’s path as she tried to walk within its perimeters.
We are very grateful for the gift of Sister Mary McDonald (Sister Martinian) in our lives. We are better people for knowing her.
Memories are truly gifts. They keep us company and in the very act of remembering we can often find ourselves reflecting. Each person has his or her memories of Sister Mary Mc Donald. I invite anyone who wishes to come forward at this time and share a thought or a way in which Sister Mary Mac Donald touched your life.
Sister Mary, we celebrate and honor your life as a Sister of St. Joseph. You brought peace and consolation into our lives and for that we shall be grateful.
Given by: Sister Gail Donahue, CSJ