Sister Mary Elizabeth Kelly, CSJ
Sister Elizabeth was born in 1934 to her loving parents Elizabeth Reidy, a native of County Cork, Ireland, and Patrick Kelly, a native of County Mayo. Along with her beloved brother Billy, Elizabeth attended Saint Patrick’s school, Long Island City. During her elementary school years, Elizabeth already felt called to religious life. After graduating, she chose to attend Saint Joseph’s Juniorate, a high school for girls interested in entering the convent. Her love for God, and the Sisters, deepened during those years, so immediately after graduation, and with the blessing of her parents, Elizabeth entered the convent in September 1952; then for the next 71 years until her death on August 15, she lived a fulfilled life of joyful service as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
If you were fortunate enough to live and work with Sister Elizabeth as I was, here at Immaculate Heart School, you recognized immediately that she was a dedicated educator, a great mentor, and a model religious.
Elizabeth began teaching in 1954 at Saint Francis Xavier school Brooklyn, and except a few years at Holy Name, Valley Stream, she spent her entire career teaching in schools throughout the Brooklyn diocese. The people of this parish were blessed when Sister Elizabeth arrived to teach seventh grade in September 1966, and further blessed in 1970 when she was appointed principal. Sister Elizabeth was a skilled administrator. During her 11-years as principal the school flourished and offered the children who attended IHM a rigorous, value-laden education. Sister Elizabeth always led by example. She was the first one in the school in the morning; there to greet every class and teacher, and the last one there in the late afternoon, making sure everything was ready for the next day.
After IHM, Sister Elizabeth served as principal of Saint Rose of Lima and Flatbush Catholic Academy. Her administrative skills and contribution to Catholic education were acknowledged with two special awards: The St. John Neumann Award for outstanding leadership as principal and the Thomas J. Cuite Award for dedication to Catholic Education. In later years, Sister Elizabeth taught English and Guidance at Bishop Kearney High School before retiring to Stella Maris convent in 2017. Though her career brought her to many places, Sister Elizabeth had a special place in her heart for IHM, and for its priests and people. This was home to her.
Besides being a model educator, Sister Elizabeth was a model religious. She was the first one in chapel every morning and never began or ended the day without saying her prayers. She was a kind and caring housemate, who always had a twinkle in her eyes, and a quick, disarming wit that could lighten any moment. If there was work to be done, you could always count on her to roll up her sleeves and pitch in. She was always a faithful and true daughter of Joseph, and a model of humble, joyful service.
Now Elizabeth is united with her parents, her deceased relatives, and all the deceased members of the Congregation, enjoying the eternal life promised to all those in Christ who have lived and loved as he lived and loved. And so to our Sister Elizabeth we say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, … Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Sister Maria Pascuzzi
Sister Mary Elizabeth Kelly, CSJ, the former Sister Elizabeth Maura, died on August 16, 2023 in the 71st year of her religious life.