Obituaries, Week of Oct. 29, 2022

Msgr. John P. Meier, SSD, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and one of the world’s premiere scriptural scholars, died at the age of 80. 

Born in 1942, Msgr. Meier was an alumnus of Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College in Dunwoodie, New York (Class of 1964), and upon graduation, he was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, for priestly formation. 

While in Rome, he earned the Bachelors (STB) and Licentiate (STL) summa cum laude from the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Licentiate (SSL) and Doctorate (SSD) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (summa cum laude). Father Meier was ordained at the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica in December 1967 and was given the title of Reverend Monsignor by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1994 as a prelate of honor. 

For 12 years, Msgr. Meier served as a professor of Sacred Scripture and as a formator at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. From the seminary, Msgr. Meier began a long career as a professor of the New Testament at the Catholic University of America (for 14 years) and then became the William K. Warren Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he continued to teach even after his retirement. 

Msgr. Meier was an expert in the Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint John and was one of the finest biblical exegetes in the field of the historical Jesus. 

His five-volume magnum opus, “A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus” (1991-2016), is considered a masterpiece in theology and scriptural studies, and Msgr. Meier was working on a sixth volume in the series when he died on Oct. 18. No one less than Pope- Emeritus Benedict XVI made use of Msgr. Meier’s exegesis in his own work, Jesus of Nazareth. 

The wake and funeral for Msgr. Meier was held at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. The principal celebrant for the funeral Mass was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, and the homilist was Msgr. Kevin L. Sullivan. 

Sister Margaret Gannon, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Anina) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, died on Oct. 14 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

Sister Margaret was born on June 2, 1937, in Brooklyn and given the name Margaret Philomena. She was the daughter of the late John and Josephine Cassidy Gannon. 

Sister Margaret entered the IHM Congregation on Feb. 2, 1956, and made her temporary profession of vows on Aug. 5, 1958, and her final profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1963. Sister Margaret received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history/ English from Marywood College, a Master of Arts degree in history and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in history, both from St. John’s University. 

Sister Margaret served as a teacher at the following schools: Holy Angels Elementary School in Pittsburgh from 1958 to 1959; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Elementary School in Forest Hills from 1959 to 1964; and St. Joseph’s High School in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, from 1964 to 1965. 

She served on the faculty in the Department of Social Sciences at Marywood University for 47 years, retiring in 2014. 

Sister Margaret was a member of the University’s distinguished order, Cor Mariae-Pro Fide et Cultura, a distinction of esteem and appreciation awarded for her faithful, full-time faculty service. 

She served as a teacher, consultant, and member of the board of directors for ASEC (African Sisters Education Collaborative) from 1999 until 2021. She also served as a historian for the IHM Congregation, having published several books on congregation history. 

Since 1967 Sister Margaret has educated countless students, empowered women religious in Africa, promoted cultural diversity, global justice, and world peace, and actively advocated for solutions to world hunger and the prevention of human trafficking. She was a champion of the poor, the marginalized, and the forgotten. 

Following her retirement from Marywood, Sister Margaret served as a refugee resettlement volunteer at Catholic Social Services in Scranton, Pennsylvania, from 2014 to 2017. 

In addition, she was a member of the board of directors of the United Neighborhood Center of Lackawanna County and was also the founder and former director of the Theresa Maxis Center for Justice and Peace. 

From 2021 until the time of her death, Sister Margaret was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton. 

She is preceded in death by two brothers, John and James, and a sister, Eileen. She is survived by two brothers, Gerard of Florham Park, New Jersey, and Robert of Bradenton, Florida, and nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. 

A prayer of remembrance was held on Oct. 19, followed by a memorial Mass at the IHM Center in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Interment will be at a later date at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, Pennsylvania. 

Martha Hanlon, RSM, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas since 1960, died on Sept. 17 in Dallas, Pennsylvania. 

A native of Larksville, Pennsylvania, Martha was the daughter of Thomas and Helen (Cantwell) Hanlon. 

Sister Martha was a treasure to all who knew her—as a gifted administrator, an enthusiastic teacher, a compassionate mentor, and a loving friend. During her life in Mercy, Sister Martha passionately embraced her ministries in the Dioceses of Scranton, Harrisburg, and Brooklyn. 

She served as assistant academic dean and dean of students at Misericordia University. At King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Sister Martha was an Associate Professor of Education and the Director of the King’s College Student Teaching Program. 

In recent years, Sister Martha served on the Boards of Misericordia University, the Mercy Foundation, the NativityMiguel School of Scranton, the Ethics Institute of NEPA, and the McGlynn Learning Center. For many years, Sister Martha was active on the Luzerne County Youth Aid Panel. 

Martha’s overflowing generosity and unwavering faith in the goodness of people enabled her to indelibly touch the hearts of many. Her deep commitment to the underserved took her to Uganda, where she worked with African Women Religious to create educational enrichment programs for young Sisters. 

Sister Martha’s friends could identify only one dream unfulfilled in Martha’s life: she never scored that coveted hole-in-one in her favorite sport of golf. 

In the brief months of her illness, Martha remained in the center of a loving circle of Mercy, accepting the care of her dear friends Sister Jayne Pruitt, Sister Sara Sweeney, Mary Theresa Sweeney Brown, and Martha’s cousin Marie Fitzpatrick. 

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated for Sister Martha on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Mercy Center, Dallas, Pennsylvania. Burial followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Carverton, Pennsylvania.