Through 95 years of life and 75 as a Sister of the Holy Child Jesus, Sr. Mary Theodosia (“Theo”), has maintained a joyful sparkle and a keen sense of humor. These qualities have won her many friends over the years. A loyal Philadelphian, she has happy memories of family and parish life in South Philadelphia and can still give a lively rendition of the “mummers’ strut.”
Sr. Theo entered the Society after graduating from West Philadelphia Catholic Girls High School, and for 30 years was a creative classroom teacher, chiefly in the Philadelphia area. She was able to care for her mother for a year until her death in 1969. Meanwhile, she had earned her master’s degree in library science at Villanova University. This led her to work as librarian for six years at St. Leonard’s Academy in Philadelphia, PA and then for 10 years at School of the Holy Child in Rye, NY.
Sr. Theo had a year’s sabbatical in Rome and then gave community service in Pasadena, CA; Rosemont, PA, and the American Province Offices in Drexel Hill, PA. Always an avid learner, she began painting in water colors until she discovered the beauty of icons and has been writing one a year under the tutelage of Rev. Richard Cannuli, OSA. “My retirement years have been greatly enriched by this experience and by the people I have met along the way,” is Sr. Theo’s grateful summation.
Margaret Naab, SHCJ (M. M. Alacoque)
Sr. Margaret is soft spoken and self-effacing, but her “curriculum vitae” attests to a very active seven decades of ministry, chiefly involving her artistic talents. Sr. Margaret received her master’s degree in art history from the Catholic University of America and is a lifelong learner who has enjoyed a year’s study in Florence, as well as visits to other European Art Museums.
Sr. Margaret is a Philadelphian and has made a mark for herself in this area. For example, during her 17 years of teaching at West Philadelphia Catholic Girls High School, her alma mater, she designed an art studio, a separate building which is still in the courtyard of the school today. Sr. Margaret was the first woman invited to join the faculty at St. Charles Seminary where her course in Christian Art was well received by the seminarians. Convinced that art is not meant to be a private matter, Sr. Margaret has shared her talents widely, lecturing in various local parishes and colleges.
Even in her later years, she has tutored high school students, served meals to the homeless, and led a prayer group by telephone. Her generosity and creativity surely mark her as a true daughter of Cornelia.
Elinor Callanan, SHCJ (M. Dolores Mary)
Sr. Elinor was the youngest of three siblings—all of whom followed religious vocations, her brother as a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, and her sister Marian who, as Mother Mary Ferdinand, was a Holy Child Sister. Sr. Elinor was educated at St. Walburga’s Academy near her home and received a degree in mathematics (her favorite subject) from Manhattanville College. She worked for the Navy during World War II and, after the death of her mother, entered the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
After 10 years of classroom teaching, Sr. Elinor ministered in Nigeria for 12 years. These included the anxious years of the Biafran War and some unforgettable adventures she had with other Holy Child Sisters to reach safety in Ghana.
Sr. Elinor returned home to care for her father in his final years, and then shared her mathematical skills in a variety of ways—chiefly at the New Sharon Convent where she served on the staff of both the Infirmary (now Holy Child Center) and the community. These days despite her physical limitations, Sr. Elinor’s sense of humor has not dimmed. She is keenly interested in SHCJ news and world events, especially any item related to her beloved New York City. All these are included in her daily prayers, her current service in the Society.
Elizabeth Fitzmaurice, SHCJ (M. Thomas Mary)
Sr. Elizabeth not only holds a master’s degree in history, but also made history in the Society for her clear thinking and strong administrative skills, especially in the challenging renewal period following Vatican II. She was Provincial of the then Eastern American Province for three years and then, after the three provinces merged into one, she led the newly formed American Province for seven productive years.
Sr. Elizabeth had entered the Society in 1949, directly after her graduation from Holy Child High School in Waukegan, IL. Her talents were early discovered as she went from classroom teaching to administration – serving as Prefect of Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena, CA, for two years and Principal of Holy Child Academy in Sharon Hill, PA for 10 years.
After two years of theology study in Cambridge, MA, Sr. Elizabeth brought her gifts to the Diocese of Gaylord, MI as Director of Ministry and Adult Formation, and served as Director of the After Care Program at the House of Affirmation in Hopedale, MA. At the Weston School of Theology, Sr. Elizabeth made an impact as Dean of Students for six years. Now happily settled in New England, Sr. Elizabeth continues to serve as a volunteer and keeps in touch with SHCJ by phone and e-mail.
Elizabeth Loomis, SHCJ (M. Christopher Mary)
In her 60 years of ministry in the Society, Sr. Elizabeth has traveled from the East to the West Coast of the United States, as well as to Europe and Africa. A native New Yorker, Sr. Elizabeth entered the Society after graduating from Holy Child Academy in Sharon Hill, PA. She first taught at St. James in Philadelphia, PA and then at St. Elizabeth's in New York City. Sr. Elizabeth also taught at the School of the Holy Child in Suffern, NY from 1959 to 1964, and then became Principal at Holy Child High School, Old Westbury for six years.
Sr. Elizabeth also served as Formation Director and later in Province Administration following which she did pastoral work for two years in Lagos, Nigeria. Since earning her master’s degree in theology from the Jesuit Weston School of Theology in 1984, Sr. Elizabeth has focused primarily on adult theological education and spiritual ministry. She worked in those areas for the Diocese of Shreveport in Louisiana and then for four years as Director of the English-speaking section of the Regina Mundi Theological Institute in Rome.
Sr. Elizabeth also was a member of the staff at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, LA, and later returned to Nigeria to work in Jos. Now in San Diego, CA, Sr. Elizabeth, though her extensive spiritual ministry, has brought her skills and her listening heart to many. “I am deeply grateful for the gift of my vocation to the SHCJ and for the privilege of working with women of the Society in different parts of the world,” says Sr. Elizabeth.
Jay McCann, SHCJ (M. John Cantius)
Sr. Jay is quite unique. She is related to Cornelia Connelly, the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, through her great-grandfather, Edward Grant, who married Cornelia’s niece, Cornelia Duval.
Sr. Jay served in the Coast Guard (SPARS) during World War II. An accident during her service led to six months of hospitalization and an honorary discharge. During her lengthy recuperation, Sr. Jay heard the call to religious life. Keen on serving as a missionary, she decided to pursue a degree in botany before entering the Society. Her scientific interests and love of animals had been nurtured along the coasts of Florida where she grew up and received her early education.
Sr. Jay taught for nine years in grade schools in the United States before her desire to go to the missions was fulfilled. Then, for 16 years, she taught science in Ghana adapting her classes to the practical needs of her students.
Even after her return to the U.S. in 1977, her missionary heart led her to Fulton, Mississippi where, with Alma Cornely, SHCJ, she made an impact on this rural community. Next, Sr. Jay moved to Charlotte, NC where the St. Luke’s parish honored her in 2007 with their “Salt and Light Award” for her service to the community, especially for “building friendships and fostering a profound appreciation for God’s beauty among us.” Those words are an excellent recapitulation of Jay’s religious life.
Marlene Brownett, SHCJ (M. M. Magdalen)
Sr. Marlene discovered Cornelia Connelly as a student at Rosemont College. Since then, she has deepened her love and understanding of the Society’s Foundress. She has shared this admiration for Cornelia’s spirit and holy life with many audiences, young and old.
Sr. Marlene entered the Society three years after her graduation from Rosemont College. A gifted English teacher, she began her ministry of education at the School of the Holy Child in Suffern, NY, where she served as Principal for two years. Then at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ, she was both teacher and local superior for six years.
In 1977, she was called to Rome to serve as Secretary General of the Society. Three years later she returned to the Oak Knoll School, where she continued to teach for 14 years. Her sister’s fragile health brought her to New York where she lovingly cared for her until her death. Presently residing in Marian Woods, Sr. Marlene is working zealously for the beatification of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, a long-time family friend.
Margaret Crowley, SHCJ (M. M. Mark)
Sr. Peg has had several ministries in the Society: educator, administrator, and social worker. Her ministries have always reflected her parents’ Irish spirit. Their faith and perseverance have been her lifelong inspiration. A New Yorker who first met Holy Child Sisters at St. Elizabeth’s in New York City, Sr. Peg entered the Society right after graduating from high school. After profession of her vows, she began her teaching career in Melrose, MA (where she later returned in 1974 as Principal and local superior). She went on to Washington, DC where she was Director of Religious Education in Annunciation Parish.
Her administrative gifts were early recognized. For 20 years, Sr. Peg served as trustee for various Holy Child schools. She was asked to assume leadership roles, not only in Melrose, MA, but also as area superior in Washington, DC. Sr. Peg served on the Provincial Council for three years before being named Provincial Superior. After her term of office and a sabbatical, Sr. Peg earned her master’s degree in social work from the Catholic University of America. Since 1996, she has served as a therapist and spiritual director. Her chief ministry has been at St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, MD with responsibility for the After Care Program. For 16 years now, Sr. Peg has traveled the world while compassionately carrying out this delicate ministry.
Margaret Doherty, SHCJ (M. M. St. Thomas)
Sr. Peggy came to know the Holy Child Sisters at St. Edward’s School, where she was assigned to teach as part of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Teaching Program. After entering the Society, her first teaching assignment was at Holy Spirit School in Sharon Hill, PA. She later returned to St. Edward’s for her longest teaching assignment—from 1967-1977. During her years in school ministry, she spent two summers learning Spanish and served as Principal for five years. She remained in the parish as a member of the pastoral team until she began studies at Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC.
After receiving her master’s degree in theology in 1981, she was missioned to Chile where she directed the catechetical program and made lasting friendships. On her return to the U.S. in 1985, Sr. Peggy served as parish minister at St. Bonaventure’s Parish in Philadelphia, PA until it closed in 1993. Then she helped Nancy Hagenbach, SHCJ (M. Agnes Mary) launch Providence Center. For two years, Sr. Peggy taught English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes, worked with the prayer groups and retreat program at the Center, as well as doing home visits. In 1995, she worked part-time so she could direct the religious education program at Nativity Parish. Sr. Peggy was missioned again to Chile in 2004. After three years, she returned to Providence Center where she continues today as Director of the ESL Program and Coordinator of the Women’s Prayer Group and Retreats.
Barbara Linen, SHCJ (M. M. St. Kevin)
Sr. Barbara’s ministry has taken her to three continents and includes a variety of academic and administrative responsibilities. A graduate of the School of the Holy Child in Rye, NY, she entered the Society a year later and, after professing her vows, she taught for 10 years in schools in New York and Illinois. In 1974, Sr. Barbara began studies at Leuven University in Belgium and after two years taught at Project T I M E (Teachers in Moral & Religious Education) in Lagos, Nigeria.
When she returned from Nigeria, Sr. Barbara taught at Rosemont College until 1978. Next, she returned to Leuven where she received her Ph.D. in religious studies with a specialty in moral theology. Sr. Barbara returned to teach at Rosemont College before serving in Shreveport, LA as a Bishop’s theologian and instructor at the Greco Institute. From there, she was called to the Society’s American Province Leadership Team, and at the end of her six-year term, she returned to teaching–first as an adjunct at three colleges, then full-time Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of the Pastoral Ministry Program at Caldwell College. Three years later, Sr. Barbara was elected to the General Council for a term of six years. Afterwards, she chose to spend six months of her sabbatical in Tchad, Chad. Now she is an adjunct professor of theology at Iona and Felician Colleges in the New York area, her life coming full circle.
Elizabeth Muir, SHCJ (M. David Mary)
Sr. Beth never knew Holy Child Sisters until after graduating from Cecilian Academy when she enrolled in the Archdiocesan Teaching Program and was assigned to teach at St. Edward’s in Philadelphia, PA, where the Sisters of the Holy Child were teaching. Drawn by the spirit of the Holy Child, she entered the Society and after profession of vows, was assigned to teach again at St. Edward’s. For the next 18 years, she taught in the East: Holy Spirit (where she was Principal for four years), Rosemont Senior School in Rosemont, PA, and St. Leonard’s Academy in Philadelphia, PA. Then came the big change to the West and for another 18 years, Sr. Beth taught math and was involved in a very active service program at the Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim, CA.
After serving for three years as Principal at the Cornelia Connelly Center in New York City, Sr. Beth received a call from the Society’s Leadership Team and was asked to serve as Assistant Treasurer and Econome in Rome, Italy. Sr. Beth has been there ever since and has grown accustomed to Rome. Her outreach includes a monthly meeting, and an Advent and Lenten Day of Prayer (which she plans along with a committee) with the English-speaking sisters in the city.
Ann Murray, SHCJ (M. Ann Catherine)
Sr. Ann received her education from Holy Child Sisters at St. Elizabeth’s and St. Walburga’s Acadmey in New York City so she came to the Society vibrant with Holy Child spirit. She served for more than 20 years as a classroom teacher at St. Anastasia’s, Waukegan, IL; St. Ignatius, Chicago, IL; Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, Summit, NJ; and St. Elizabeth’s, New York, NY; where she was area superior for three years. In 1984, she received the challenging assignment of Vocation Director. Two years later, she began working with impoverished families—first at Dwelling Place, then as Coordinator of the Chaplaincy for the Ministry of the Homeless and Hungry. After earning her master’s degree in social work from Fordham University, Sr. Ann served as a counselor for Catholic Charities. When they closed their local clinics, Sr. Ann ministered at the Riverdale Mental Health Clinic in the Bronx. Now living in Rye, NY, Sr. Ann continues to use her experience and counseling skills at the Carver Center and Corpus Christi School in nearby Port Chester.