A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister John Raymond, C.S.J., the twin sister of the late Bishop John R. McGann of Rockville Centre, was celebrated Jan. 12 in Sacred Heart Chapel at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, L.I. She died Jan. 6, at St. Joseph’s Convent, Brentwood. She was 91 and in her 68th year of religious life.
Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, she attended Our Lady of Good Counsel School, St. Angela Hall H.S., the College of New Rochelle and Columbia University. After one year of teaching in the public school system, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1948.
She taught at St. Brendan’s Elementary School, Midwood, and Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, before joining the faculty of St. Joseph’s College for Women, Brooklyn, in 1956 as chairman of the Education Department.
During her years at the college, she pursued further graduate study, earning a Ph.D. from St. John’s University and completing post-doctoral studies at Catholic University, Ohio State University and Loyola University.
She served as General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph from 1978 to 1986. In that role, she led the congregation to live out and consolidate the changes resulting from the Second Vatican Council.
The mission of the congregation flourished as Sisters continued to minister in parishes, schools and medical facilities. It expanded as Sisters became involved in social services, ministry to the imprisoned, providing shelter to those in need and social justice issues.
She was awarded honorary degrees by Niagara University and St. John’s University and served on the Board of Trustees of 11 C.S.J. high schools, as well as Cleary School for the Deaf, St. Francis School for the Deaf, Catholic Medical Center in Brooklyn, Maria Regina Residence and St. Joseph’s College.
Sister Helen Kearney, C.S.J., president of the congregation, said that Sister John Raymond will be remembered as a wonderful, wise and energetic woman who gave so much to the congregation, the people she mentored and her friends.
“She was willing to give her many, many talents – knowledge and over the years the experience she had. She was tireless, very energetic,” Sister Helen said. “She was a very capable woman. She had great dignity and she was very open to whatever was needed in the congregation.”
As superior, Sister John Raymond encouraged the sisters to pursue studies beyond education and the medical field. Many sisters went on to social work, including the start of the sisters’ Providence House network, which provides transitional housing for women who are homeless and recently released from prison.
“She encouraged the sisters to be educated, and encouraged them to meet new needs but also was very supportive of our continued ministries” in schools and parishes, Sister Helen said.
“She really did have a wisdom – and she shared that wisdom for the sake of the people,” Sister Helen said. “She was honest. She always spoke the truth.”
Sister John Raymond attended congregational meetings until recently.
“We will miss her presence. She said powerful and insightful comments,” Sister Helen said, “because she cared so deeply about the Church and the congregation.”
She also was predeceased by her siblings Sister Thomas Joseph, C.S.J., Madeline McGann, Thomas McGann, Joseph McGann and James McGann. She is survived by her sister-in-law Nancy McGann, and nieces and nephews.
Burial was in the cemetery at the motherhouse.