Obituaries, Week of March 20, 2021

Maryknoll Sister, Writer, Activist, Who Served in Africa for Over 50 Years

Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM, a Maryknoll Sister who ministered in southern Africa for nearly 40 years and later became president of her religious order, died March 7 in Maryknoll, New York. She was 79.

Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM

“Today, we lost another great Maryknoll sister,” said Orbis Books publisher Robert Ellsberg in a string of Twitter posts.

Born in Pittsburgh, Sister Janice’s mission “was stimulated by pictures of giraffes in National Geographic, and she somehow knew that Africa would be her destiny,” he added.

Orbis published one of Sister Janice’s books, “Ostriches, Dung Beatles, and Other Spiritual Masters: A Book of Wisdom From the Wild,” based on her observations of animals native to southern Africa.

Maryknoll Father Joe Healey, a close collaborator, said he celebrated a Mass on March 7 for the repose of her soul.

“Janice went to Kenya in 1969 to serve in the Kenya Catholic Conference of Bishops’ social communications department,” Father Healey said in a March 7 Facebook post. “We worked together for over 50 years throughout eastern Africa,” Father Healy said, summing her ministry and other projects she continued involved in until her death. “We shared a passion for training Africans in the different media of social communications and for handing over our ministries to the local church.”

Sister Janice spent the bulk of her ministry in Zimbabwe, where she arrived in 1977 when it was known as Rhodesia. Besides Zimbabwe and Kenya, she also ministered in Namibia and Mozambique.

“Janice was a missioner to the very end,” Father Healey said. “Her last project in Zimbabwe was to stop human trafficking.”

She served one term as president of the Maryknoll Sisters starting in 2009.

Sister Claire Kalbacher, OP, a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville for over 75 years, died on Feb. 28. She was 97.

Sister Claire Kalbacher, OP

She was born on July 6, 1923, and resided in St. Pancras Parish, Queens.

She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1943, and received the habit and her religious name, Sister Mary Kenneth, on Aug. 4, 1944.

After taking her first vows on Aug. 8, 1945, she was assigned to teach in elementary education at Fourteen Holy Martyrs School, Bushwick. Within three years, she was reassigned to Dominican Commercial High School in Jamaica, Queens.

She held a BBA from St. John’s University and an MBA from Hunter College, New York.

In 1963, she was appointed principal of Christ the King in Commack, Long Island. In the following 19 years, she was involved in several ministries: the Business Department at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, teacher at St. Agnes High School in College Point, teacher in Dominican Commercial High School, and principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Lindenhurst, Long Island.

Her funeral Mass was held on March 3, at the Motherhouse, followed by burial in the Sisters’ Cemetery, Amityville.

Sister Rose Miriam Pelletier, CSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph for 57 years, died on Jan 22.

Sister Rose Miriam Pelletier, CSJ

She entered the congregation on Sept. 2, 1964, from her home parish of St. Francis Xavier, Park Slope.

She earned her BS from Brentwood College and her MS from Hofstra University.

Her ministries included Blessed Sacrament in Valley Stream (1969-70), St. Clare in Rosedale (1970-72), St. Frances de Chantal, Wantagh (1972-83), St. Joachim, Cedarhurst (1983-85), Brentwood Education Center (1985-86), St. Vincent de Paul, Elmont (1986-87), St. Joseph HS (1987-88), St. Cecilia, Greenpoint (1991-99), St. Joseph Convent (2001-2005).

Her funeral Mass was held in the Joan de Lourdes Room, Brentwood, on Jan. 27, followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery.

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