Obituaries, Week of Sept. 25, 2021

Sister Dorothea Gillen, RSM, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community for 77 years, died on August 31, at age 95 at Maria Regina Residence in Brentwood, NY.

Sister Dorothea Gillen, RSM

Born in Brooklyn, she attended St. Agatha Elementary School and Mercy Juniorate High School.

Inspired by the Sisters who taught her, Sister Dorothea entered the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate in Syosset in February 1944 and professed her final vows in September 1949.

She received a BS in Education from St. John’s University, an MA in Special Education from Seton Hall University as well as Certificates in Supervision in Public Service, AIDS/Substance Abuse, and Property Management.

As a teacher in St. Patrick, Kent Ave. (1946-47); Sacred Heart, Adelphi St. (1948-51); St. Gerard Majella, Hollis, (1951-57); St. Mary’s, Roslyn, N.Y. (1957-59); Holy Rosary (1959-62); Mercy High School, Riverhead, N.Y. (1962-70); and Catherine McAuley High School (1970), she passed on the loving care and enthusiasm for learning she received earlier in her life.

Sister Dorothea was a hospital prison chaplain for the Department of Correction (1982-88), director of ministerial services in the Department of Correction (1987-88), a unit supervisor in the Brooklyn Supportive Living Program (1988-93), property manager for Mercy Gardens SRO (1993-98) and Department of Correction chaplain (1999-2002), in addition to countless other volunteer activities.

A funeral Mass was celebrated in the Sisters of Mercy Convent, Whitestone, and burial was held in St. Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale, N.Y.

Brother Norman Smercak, O.S.F., entered Eternal Life on Sept. 4, 2021. He was born on Jan. 6, 1944, to Marie Dubina and Frank Smercak.

Brother Norman Smercak, O.S.F.,

Brother Norman grew up in the Bronx, and New Hyde Park, N.Y. He attended Holy Cross High School, St. Francis College, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and Yeshiva University.

After high school, he entered the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn and professed his religious vows on Jan. 6, 1964.

Brother Norman taught mathematics at Saint Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Tampa Catholic High School, St. Joseph’s High School in St. Augustine, Fla., and St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, N.Y.

Brother Norman was an excellent and outstanding high school teacher and a remarkable coach in track and field, football, and swimming.

He enjoyed his 35 years serving in various positions, including camp director at Camp Alvernia in Centerport, N.Y. Brother Norman retired from his teaching and coaching ministry while residing at St. Anthony’s High School friary but continued to be involved in various school activities.

Brother Norman is survived by his sister Elizabeth Carlos, his nephew Colin Patrick and his niece Kay Elizabeth.

Funeral services for Brother Norman were held Saturday, Sept. 18 at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, N.Y. Interment followed at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, N.Y.   

Deacon John E. Sands, beloved husband, father, and grandfather and retired deacon at St. Matthias Church, Ridgewood, passed away at age 78 on Sept. 10.

Deacon John E. Sands

Deacon Sands was ordained in the first class to the Permanent Diaconate By Bishop Mugavero on Dec. 3, 1977. John proudly served as Deacon for 44 years, serving the needs of the poor and underserved in our community as a true follower. He encouraged all he met to be loving, kind, and generous people. His smile was infectious and an example of his deep understanding of his mission to follow Jesus.

Deacon Sands was married to his loving wife Gail for 57 years. He is survived by his five children — Julie, Mary, Ellen, David, and John — and nine grandchildren — Kristen, Chelsea, Jimmy, Samantha, Elizabeth, Olivia, Cole, Joshua, and Kassidy.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 14 at St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church, Ridgewood, N.Y.

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