Obituaries, Week of November 4, 2023

Sister Virginia Elizabeth Down, died on Oct. 10, 2023, just days after her 75th birthday. “Sister Ginny,” as she was called, attended St. Robert Bellarmine Elementary School and The Mary Louis Academy, from where she graduated in 1966. One year later she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, New York. 

Having received her B.A. in history from St. Joseph College, she began her education ministry at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Brooklyn, for four years and St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, for two years, teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies. Having received a degree in religious studies from Providence College, religious education was her forté, and she pursued her passion at Sacred Heart Academy, Hempstead, for five years, followed by ministering as director of religious education in St. Clare’s, Rosedale, and parish ministry for 11 years at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Inwood. 

Sister Ginny’s giftedness was evident as she creatively moved the parish programs to innovative areas for children and adults alike. Her many endeavors led to special recognition by her sisters in community, as they chose her to be their regional superior. 

Sister Ginny’s work with retired and physically and mentally challenged sisters led her to St. Joseph Convent as pastoral care coordinator, simultaneously studying at the Avila Institute of Gerontology. 

Her quick wit and joyous spirit were hallmarks of her life as a Sister of St. Joseph for 56 years. Sister Ginny received awards for participation in RCIA and evangelization work in both the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre Dioceses. Her CSJ spirituality flowed out from her in ministry and in her parish life at St. Patrick’s, Bay Shore. 

Her funeral Mass was celebrated by Father Sean Gann and Father Larry Duncklee on Oct. 14 in Sacred Heart Chapel, Brentwood, followed by her burial in Calvary Cemetery. 

Sister Jennie Palma, OP, died on Oct. 2, 2023, the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. She was 96 years old and had been a Sister of St. Dominic of Amityville for 76 years. 

Jennie Mary Palma was born March 3, 1927 in Brooklyn. She was raised in Jamaica, Queens, and attended St. Pius V Parish. Jennie met the Dominican Sisters, who taught in the parish school. When Jennie graduated from John Adams High School, she worked in the business world for two years. 

On Sept. 8, 1947, Jennie entered the Novitiate of the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, and on Aug. 4, 1948, she received the habit and her religious name, Sister Marie Flores. Jennie professed her first vows on Aug. 6, 1949, and her final vows on Aug. 7, 1952. 

Sister Jennie received a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University and a Master of Arts in languages from Middlebury College in Vermont. She was a linguist who could speak fluently in Italian, Spanish, and French, languages she taught on the secondary level and as an adjunct professor for five years at C.W. Post College in Brookville, New York. 

Sister Jennie began her long ministry as an educator in 1949 in Brooklyn at St. Frances De Chantal School. She then moved on to St. Bartholomew School in Queens and Holy Redeemer School in Freeport. From 1965 to 1989, she taught Spanish and French at All Saints High School in Brooklyn, St. Agnes High School in College Point, and Queen of the Rosary Academy in Amityville. 

From 1989 forward, Sister Jennie took up ministry where it was needed: as a substitute teacher, an office clerical worker, a teacher’s aide. One of Jennie’s special places of volunteering was at Dominican Village. Shortly after Sister Jennie moved to Amityville, our literacy program, The OPening Word, opened a new site in the Motherhouse. Sister Jennie immediately volunteered as a teacher. 

Sister Jennie is survived by her sisters Anna Paolini and Josephine Doria, and her brother Joseph and their families, which include 18 nieces and nephews and countless grandnieces and grandnephews. 

The funeral and Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Jennie Palma were held in St. Albert’s Chapel on Oct. 5, 2023. Interment followed in St. Dominic’s Cemetery on the Motherhouse grounds. 

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