Sing to God, sing praise, tell all of God’s wonderful deeds. That is what Sister Marie de Montfort Shields did all of her life with her love of God, love of music and love of people. Marie was born in Queens to Elizabeth and Anthony and named Joan Elizabeth. She grew up with her sister Catherine and her brother Jimmy and attended Holy Name of Mary parish school in Valley Stream. She attended Our Lady of Wisdom Academy and after graduation entered our congregation, beginning her seventy two years as a Sister of St. Joseph.
Marie’s first mission was in St. Benedict Joseph in Richmond Hill where she taught music for seventeen years. During that time she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music from Nazareth College and her Masters in Music from Duquesne. We can only begin to imagine the number of children who discovered their musical talent along with a true sense of themselves, encouraged by Marie’s calm and honest approach to life. A sister in our congregation tells the story of trying out for the choir and having Marie calmly tell her that she should think of taking up an instrument instead.
Always involved in our congregation, Marie spoke the truth with honesty and conviction. Marie cared for people and cherished her time with her nieces and nephews, delighting in them and, yes, I heard, guiding them with honesty and encouragement, even when playing Scrabble. Marie was always present to her students, their parents and to the sisters and lay teachers who ministered with her. After studying Educational Administration at Fordham University, Marie became the Assistant Principal at St. Angel Hall Academy’s elementary school.
Intimately close to her God and open to the Spirit, Marie assumed a leadership role in our congregation as Regional Superior for eight years, ministering to our sisters. Her calm, honest and gracious countenance was well suited for her ministry to our sisters as she assumed the role of Regional Superior for this very house, Maria Regina, serving for twelve years. Always attentive to individual needs, Marie provided for the pastoral, physical and social needs of the sisters here. Encouraging participation and providing times of celebration, she enabled the residents to live with dignity, peace and joy.
Marie brought that same care to her ten year ministry as a Pastoral Associate in St. Cyril and Methodius parish in Deer Park, never wavering from her calm and gracious presence to anyone who encountered her. Her demeanor came from her sense that Christ indeed dwelt in her heart and comforted her in the struggles of her last illness. That faith and trust enabled her to respond to God’s final call to arise come and be with me forever.
Sister Marie de Montfort Shields, CSJ died on January 10, 2019 in the 72nd year of her religious life.