Sister Mary Ita O’Donnell, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph for 70 years, died on May 6 at St. Joseph Convent, Brentwood, at age 88.
Born to John and Margaret O’Donnell, Mary and her siblings, John, Ann, and Jane, grew up in Hewlett, N.Y., where they were involved in St. Joseph’s parish and attended St. Joachim School in Cedarhurst. After graduating from Bishop McDonnell High School in 1952, Mary entered the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Mary’s greatest joy was her love of teaching, especially in anything related to science. This was very obvious to all her students in St. Patrick’s (Long Island City), St. Teresa of Avila, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Francis de Sales, St. Augustine, and Holy Spirit. During this time, she earned a BA in Social Studies from St. Francis College and an MS in Education from Brooklyn College.
In 1979, Mary joined the St. Joseph High School community, where her enthusiasm for science education inspired her students and impressed on them the beauty of God’s world and their place in it, for 25 years. She became known for her willingness to support and mentor teachers statewide, as well as for being involved in educational organizations. Her work was recognized by many, including the National Science Teachers Association, the Science Council of New York City, and the Science Teachers Association of New York State.
When her days in the classroom were over, Mary volunteered her talents and love of the beauty of God’s world at the Butterfly Conservatory of the Museum of Natural History and the Education Department of the Aquarium in Coney Island.
In 2015, Mary moved to St. Joseph’s Convent in Brentwood, where her light-hearted spirit and pleasant welcoming manner enriched all she met in her faith-filled, humble, and prayerful spiritual journey.
Msgr. Fernando Ferrarese and Rev. Msgr. Kevin Noone co-celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Ita in Sacred Heart Chapel, Brentwood. Her burial followed in Calvary Cemetery, Brentwood.
Sister Dolores Augustine, PVMI, was born in Hastings, MN, on August 17, 1922, and passed away May 30 at Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York.
The oldest of six children born to Lawrence and Marie Heue Augustine, she grew up, in her words, “on a typical mid-western farm.” Her first two years of education were in a one-room schoolhouse. She would later earn a Bachelor of Science in Sociology, cum laude, from Scranton University.
Attracted by their outreach to the poor, she entered the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate in 1943 and professed perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience in 1949. For almost 80 years, Sister Dolores served in parishes from Chicago to Manhattan in family visitation and catechesis. She was one of the pioneer Sisters who opened a convent in St. Paul’s Parish, West Haven, Connecticut, in 1945. She was appointed the local superior of the Brooklyn Convent and twice superior of the Manhattan Convent. From 1969 to 1974, she was a General Councilor on the General Administration of the Congregation. Throughout her years in the community, Sister Dolores gave generous service at the motherhouse in Monroe, New York, as director of grounds and maintenance, organizing the convent library as procurator, and helping to sew for the Sisters. From 1979 to 2009, Sister Dolores provided spiritual and human services in St. Matthew’s Parish in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Initially, she was a VISTA volunteer who brought the faith dimension to social action as a grassroots community organizer for an agency started by the Crown Heights parishes.
Later, as social minister, she organized or coordinated social action and service groups for the Housing committee and Tenant Council. Her social service work included providing for emergency needs of food and shelter, making referrals, and acting as a liaison with local agencies. Sister Dolores’ organizational skills helped promote and train lay leaders for the parish.
She conducted a Bible Study and was spiritual director for the Legion of Mary Presidium. Through catechesis, she assisted with the spiritual and religious development of the laity. As a member of the parish core staff, she helped set policies and plans for the parish.
Sister Dolores retired from parish ministry in 2009 and lived at Marycrest Convent in Monroe, New York. Father Michael Achanyi celebrated her Funeral Mass on June 4 at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Marycrest. Interment followed at Our Lady of the Assumption Cemetery at Marycrest, Monroe, New York.
Sister Margaret Michel Lynch (formerly Margaret Mary Lynch), a Sister of St. Joseph for almost 76 years, entered eternal life on May 13 at her home of 42 years — Maria Regina Residence, Brentwood, N.Y. She was 93.
She grew up in Brooklyn with her parents, Michael and Margaret, and her brother George, and attended St. Michael Elementary School and Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn, and St. John’s University, Jamaica.
Sister Margaret touched the lives of many primary grade students in the following schools: St. Teresa of Avila, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Michael’s and St. Francis Xavier in Brooklyn, and St. Joachim, Cedarhurst, and St. Anthony of Padua in East Northport. She was also a Religious Education teacher in these parishes. Her last ministry assignment was at St. Francis Xavier/St. Augustine as a clerical assistant, before she retired due to ill health.
God’s call to Sister Margaret had a different twist to it, especially since her ministry with children was so vibrant until illness struck and its consequences were a life of suffering. The prayerfulness of Sr. Margaret, her CSJ family, and cousins, sustained her over the years and enabled her to be a consoling presence to all who visited her and cared for her.
Her spirituality was apparent to all, and as she became more ill, her resignation was God’s gift of peace to her. As she was dying, she was consoled by the Congregational hymn, “Hail Holy Joseph” and passed into eternity.
Father Martin Bancroft celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial on May 18 in Maria Regina Chapel. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery, Brentwood.