Obituaries, Week of Sept. 3, 2022

Sister Joanmarie Smith, CSJ (Sister Dulcissima), a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph for over 70 years, died on July 23, while residing at Stella Maris Convent in Rockaway Park, a month after celebrating her 90th birthday.

Born June 20, 1932, the daughter of Charles and Gertrude Smith, she and her younger sister, Suzanne, grew up in Long Island City and attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. Joanmarie then attended The Sisters of St. Joseph Juniorate High School and, shortly after graduation, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. In the years that followed, she completed a BS in Secondary Education at St. John’s University, where she majored in English, and an MA and a Doctorate in Philosophy at Fordham University.

Sister Joanmarie began her teaching career in 1953 in the Diocese of Brooklyn at St. Pascal Baylon, Our Lady of Victory, St. Francis of Assisi, and Ascension. After teaching Religious Studies at The Mary Louis Academy for a year, she began teaching at Brentwood College, where she chaired the Philosophy Department until 1971. Following the completion of
her doctoral studies, she was named Assistant and then Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Joseph College, Brooklyn.

Sister Joanmarie began a new phase of teaching when she was invited to teach a graduate course at the Religious Education and Service Department at Boston College.

In 1981, Joanmarie accepted the position of The William A. Chryst Professor of Pastoral Theology at Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio.

In 2009, Joanmarie returned to New York, enriching the lives of the sisters she lived with at Stella Maris Convent.

Sister Mary McConnell, CSJ (Sister Mary Louis), died on August 3 at the age of 97. She was born on Jan. 8, 1925.

Sister Mary McConnell met the Sisters of Saint Joseph as a student in Our Lady of Good Counsel in Brooklyn, where she lived with her loving parents and her brothers and sister. She went on to graduate from the Academy of Saint Joseph and earn a BA in Mathematics from Saint Mary of the Woods College in Indiana. On Sept. 8, 1950, she entered the order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and embarked on a life of prayer and service to God.

Sister Mary began her educational ministry at Saint Brendan’s and Blessed Sacrament in Brooklyn and then went on
to teach Mathematics at The Mary Louis Academy, Academy of Saint Joseph, Saint Angela Hall Academy, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help High School while earning an MS in Mathematics from Catholic University of America.

She earned a degree in Pastoral Counseling from New York Theological Union, an MSW in Social Work from Hunter College, an MS in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, and a Doctorate in Psychology from California Coast University. Sister Mary enrolled in the Chaplaincy Program at Memorial Hospitaland gained certification in pastoral counseling, dynamic psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis.

She was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in Brentwood.

Sister Regina Audrey Coll, CSJ (Sister St. Thaddeus), a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph for 76 years, died on August 9 while residing at Stella Maris Convent, Rockaway Park, New York.

Born Feb. 20, 1929, the daughter of John and Alice Coll, Regina and her brother and sister grew up in a warm, faith-centered family. She and her siblings attended St. Agnes Elementary School, taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Then, she attended Bishop McDonnell High School, after which she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1946.

In the years that followed, Regina earned a BA in Mathematics from St. John’s University, an MS in Mathematics from Catholic University of America, an MA in Religion from Fordham University, and an Ed.D. in Religion from Columbia University.

Her first 11 years in teaching were spent on the elementary level at St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, St. Patrick LIC, Our Lady of Good Counsel, and St. Pascal Baylon. Her next assignments included 11 years teaching math at Sacred Heart Academy, Academy of St. Joseph, Bishop Kearney High School, and St. Pascal High School, and two years as principal of St. Anne’s, Brentwood. As campus minister to the students at Kingsboro Community College and Queens College, Regina had the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for life while responding to the needs of the young people she met.

In 1965, Regina, along with Sister Eucharia, also a Sister of St. Joseph, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama.

In 1984, Regina began 30 years as a member of the faculty at Notre Dame University. In 2014, Regina returned to New York and joined the community at Stella Maris Convent. Ever the teacher, her stories and reflective discussions always enriched the lives of the other sisters.

Father James Wood celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Regina on August 10 in Sacred Heart Chapel, and burial followed at Calvary Cemetery, Brentwood.

Sister Joan Butler, S.C. (Sister Joan Anne), a Sister of Charity-Halifax for 58 years, died on August 12, at the age of 77.

She was predeceased by her parents, brothers John and Gerard, and her sister, Shannon. She is survived by her brother Stephen and sisters Susan, Marie, Helen, and Rita, as well as numerous nieces and nephews, all residing in Canada. She is also survived by her sisters in the community.

Sister Joan spent much of her life as a teacher. Her teaching ministry brought her to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Bridgewater, Nova Scotia; Ontario, and across Canada to British Columbia and the Yukon. In 1996, she moved to New York and taught at Archbishop Molloy High School, Briarwood, from 1996-2002. She spoke fondly of her years in the classroom and would share memorable stories of living in the Yukon.

In 2002, Sister Joan returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and served for 12 years in Congregational Leadership positions. She was reelected in 2020 but was unable to complete her present term due to illness.

A funeral Mass was held on August 20 at Saint Agnes Parish, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Interment was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.

Sister Delores Russo, S.C. (Sister Robert Martin), a Sister of Charity-Halifax for 65 years, died on August 14, at age 90.

She was predeceased by her older sister, Linda Dombroski. She is survived by her niece, Dolores Gold, and nephew, Robert Dombroski, as well as her sisters in community

Sister Dolores was missioned to Saint Sebastian School, Woodside, from 1969-1970 and Our Lady of the Cenacle School, Richmond Hill, from 1970-71. In 1971, Sister Dolores became principal of Saint Sylvester School, Brooklyn, and she held that position until June 1980. In 1980, Sister Dolores became Assistant Superintendent in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, a position she held until 1986. In 1986, she joined the New Community Corp., Newark, in educational planning and development. In 1994, her educational career brought her back to New York as a teacher at the Frederick Douglass Literacy Center in Brooklyn. She served there until 2002 when she retired and settled in Forest Hills, Lynbrook, and Wantagh, New York.

Sister Dolores Russo was also missioned to Massachusetts; Caldwell, New Jersey; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the Rockville Centre Diocese. Sister Dolores retired and lived in Wantagh, New York, from 2012 until her death.

A funeral Mass was held on August 22 at Saint Barnabas Parish, Bellmore, NY. Interment was at Saint John’s Cemetery, Middle Village, NY.

Sister Joan Meeks, S.C. (Sister Joan Stephen), a Sister of Charity-Halifax for 73 years, died on August 16 at age 94. Sister Joan entered from Our Lady of Angels Parish, Brooklyn, in 1949. She is survived by many nieces and nephews as well as her sisters in the community.

Sister Joan began her ministry as a teacher at Saint Patrick School in Quebec. She was then missioned to Boston, where she taught at Saint Kevin School and Saint Peter School, Dorchester, Massachusetts, and Saint Michael School, North Andover, Massachusetts, for almost 15 years. In 1967, Sister Joan returned to her native New York to teach at Resurrection-Ascension School, Rego Park, and Maria Regina High School in Uniondale, New York. She then was missioned to Saint Barnabas School in Bellmore, New York, where she served as principal.

Toward the end of her educational career, Sister Joan accepted a position as a Residential Counselor at Boys Hope International in Cincinnati. Following this, she returned to New York to serve in the New York Childhood Center at St. Brendan School in Brooklyn as an educational assistant. Her last teaching assignment was at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School in Jamaica, Queens, before retiring to Mount Saint Vincent in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 2012.

Sister Joan retired and lived at Mount Saint Vincent, Wellesley, Massachusetts, from 2012 until her death.

A funeral Mass was held on August 26 at Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Wellesley, Massachusetts. Interment was at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Needham, Massachusetts.

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