As we gather to celebrate the life and goodness of Sister Kathleen Theresa Sullivan, formerly Sister Daniel Marie, a Sister of St. Joseph for 79 grace filled years, she would want me to say “Céad míle fáilte”, “a hundred thousand welcomes”, in Gaelic ~ her treasured ancestral language ~ and “Todo bienvenidos”, Welcome all in Spanish, a language she held dear.
The presence today of so many family members gives testimony to the vibrant, loving bond that characterized the Sullivan clan over the years. You loved your beloved Aunt Kathleen ~ and she loved you.
Born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants, Daniel and Margaret Sullivan, Kathleen’s faith and love for people were nourished by her parents, her five siblings, Peggy, Eileen, Daniel, Clare and Dennis and her large and close knit, fun loving family. The Sullivan door was always open to every relative or friend of a relative who sought hospitality in the land of promise and opportunity.
For 11 years Kathleen taught elementary school children in various parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn before being missioned to teach in Puerto Rico where she also earned her BA from Catholic University. Kathleen wholeheartedly embraced the warmth and welcome of Puerto Rican culture and became immersed in the richness of its vibrancy and people for over 13 years of dedicated service.
In later years her mastery of Spanish learned mostly from her 1st grade students and her gentle graciousness added to her ministry of welcome in Maria Regina Residence.
Returning to the States, Kathleen shifted her ministerial focus and earned a MA in Counseling and Psychology from Manhattan College and subsequent certification from the Postgraduate Center and a CPE certificate in Pastoral Counseling. All this was done ~ not on a sabbatical or time off but while Kathleen balanced teaching positions and the added responsibility of being Superior at two different convents.
Kathleen’s deep love and care for the elderly and her extraordinary skills were evidenced as she assumed the role of Pastoral Minister at Calvary Hospital and later at Misericordia Hospital. “God’s Angel” was her calling card.
Kathleen’s love of travel in her leisure time was well known ~ her bag was always packed and ready to go on any adventure. Babs, her companion was always amazed that Kathleen knew someone everywhere! ~ and someone knew her!
Asked to return to Brentwood to assume the role of Superior at St. Joseph Convent in 1987 was a life changer for Kathleen. She was home and her total focus became the care and well being of her beloved Sisters ~ a ministry she continued until health challenges moved her from care giver to receiver of care at Maria Regina Residence.
The deeper and most meaningful stories of Kathleen’s ministry and life are recounted by her dear companions and co-workers in Maria Regina Residence and Immaculata Residence.
Stories of Kathleen’s prayerful and attentive presence at the bedside of every resident in Maria Regina abound. Her “winged feet” made sure each person was visited, comforted, listened to and called by name on their journey home to God.
There’s a special story of an aide who sheepishly admitted that she followed Kathleen from room to room because she loved the beautiful prayers that flowed out of her and today Agnes White admitted doing the same! Kathleen was one with her God.
Lovingly characterized as a no nonsense woman, Kathleen did what she said needed to be done, without complaint or fanfare. Maureen Keating captured the essence of Kathleen’s life by saying that Kathleen epitomized the spirit of our first sisters in Le Puy, France.
Kathleen went out to attend to the needs of the dear neighbor, returned home for prayerful reflection, camaraderie ~ and a cup of tea.
Filled with gratitude for her full life, graced with happy years in meaningful ministry and community and an abundance of wonderful memories spent with family and friends, Kathleen accepted fully the suffering and pain of her last years ~ God was in it ~ God journeyed with her in love and fidelity. May her gracious spirit bless us all and may she be at peace with her beloved God.
Sister Kathleen Theresa Sullivan, CSJ, formerly Sister Daniel Marie, died on November 11, 2021, in the 79th year of her religious life.