We gather in this season of hope and promise to celebrate the life of Mary Dunleavy, a Sister of Saint Joseph for fifty-seven years. We celebrate Mary’s life, a life of beauty, truth and love in this miraculous season of Easter. Jesus suffered, died and was buried. He spent his life healing, redeeming and liberating others from illness, exclusion and despair and gave his life as witness to God’s unconditional love.
We have heard the gospel narratives of Jesus’s suffering and passion while his companions doubted and were fearful. The women remained. We know of Mary Magdalene whom Jesus called by name. She remained with the other women, with Mary, the mother of Jesus to witness the sufferings of Jesus and go to him after he was buried. Mary Dunleavy was called by name and she responded to the One she recognized and knew so well so she could go and tell the others,
As a Sister of Saint Joseph, Mary Dunleavy spent her life witnessing to the love of God and neighbor without distinction. She was well prepared professionally for her ministry. Mary earned a BS Education Brentwood College, an MA in Theology from Manhattan College, an MSW in Social Work from Fordham University and Certification in Addictions from New York University.
As teacher and social worker she tended to the needs of the excluded and neglected. Mary knew how systems could be unjust and worked to change them so that the lives of those who suffered under them could change. As a founding member of Providence House, Mary lived to bring God’s inclusive love to countless women and children.
Mary loved her family, the congregation and her Stella Maris sisters who cared for her unconditionally.. Her life exemplified the meaning of this Easter season. The dynamism of the Easter mystery is at the heart of our Christian faith. True encounter with Christ liberates something in us, a power that we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life, resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation…the dynamism of love.
Mary was a dynamic and joyful force upholding the dignity of the oppressed and reverence for all. In spite of challenges and personal suffering she continued to companion others and gather them into God’s unconditional love. We are certain that Mary’s suffering brought her to search for Jesus in the darkness of the tomb and she heard that He is not here; He is going before you and has prepared a place for you, a place of eternal peace and rest.
We thank you Mary for the total gift of your life, outpoured for the sake of others. We promise you that as Mary Magdalene and the other women were told to go and tell the others, we will go and tell our world the message of selfless love and compassion you have shown us.
Sister Mary Dunleavy, CSJ died on April 16, 2014 in the 57th year of her religious life.
Eulogy for S. Mary Dunleavy by S. Mary Doyle