Sister Joseph Miriam Sheehan
“The command that I give you is this, that you love one another.” (John 15:17)
“All Sister Joseph Miriam’s life was lived out in love for God and her neighbor, and she shared that love wherever she went. She is remembered as a woman of compassion, deeply involved in the lives of teachers and students alike,” said Sister Catherine Livers in her commentary for Sister Joseph Miriam Sheehan, who died March 29.
Born Mary Elizabeth Sept. 3, 1918, in Brighton, Mass., she was one of two children of Michael and Julia (Deasy) Sheehan. She attended primary and secondary school at St. Rose, Chelsea, Mass. She entered the Congregation Aug. 10, 1936, at Maryhurst in Hyattsville, Md., and professed first and perpetual vows March 11, 1939, and Jan. 23, 1945, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Rivier College, Nashua, N.H.
Sister Joseph Miriam served as an intermediate grades teacher, music teacher, librarian and/or principal. Her first teaching mission was St. Ann, Washington, D.C., in 1939. In Maryland she served Ascension, Halethorpe, and Holy Redeemer, College Park. Her classrooms in Massachusetts included Sacred Heart, Malden; St. Polycarp, Somerville; and St. Rose, Chelsea. She ministered at Blessed Sacrament, Burlington, N.C., and St. Mary, Rochester, N.H. In Chicago, she taught at St. Mel, St. Mel-Holy Ghost, St. Leo and Our Lady of Sorrows. She spent part of one academic year at St. Mary, Aurora, Ill. In Indiana, she served St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis; St. Charles, Bloomington; and St. Mary, Lefayette.
At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Sister Joseph Miriam ministered in a variety of departments including the Infirmary, the Mission Stamp Department and the Plant Business Office.
“In the year 2000, Sister Joseph Miriam began her ministry of prayer and reflection. However, she was always conscious of what she could do for others and was always grateful for anything that was done for her. She possessed great love for her family, and one of the last things she said was to tell her family that she loved them,” said Sister Catherine.
“One of the letters found in her folder was from a student that she had taught at St. Polycarp School. I quote: ‘You were the kindest teacher I ever had in all my years of education.’ She was also an excellent principal, and one of the sisters who lived with her said that whatever helped a student, she was always willing to provide,” continued Sister Catherine.
“Sister Joseph Miriam was known for her compassion for others and even in her days of pain, she would greet everyone with that quick, ready smile. She lived out fully that Gospel of St. John,” said Sister Catherine.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Joseph Miriam was celebrated April 3 with the Rev. Daniel R. Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by her brother Edward and three cousins who were also Sisters of Providence — Sisters Frances Elise Deasy, Ann Francis Deasy and Marie Eileen Deasy.
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