Jacqueline McDermott was born on January 3, 1921 in Brooklyn, one of the eight children of Harry and Elizabeth McDermott. There were six girls and two boys and her family always meant a great deal to Jacqueline. She was very close to her siblings, and she dearly loved her many nieces and nephews…and grands as well! They returned the love, and showed their affection and devotion by visiting her regularly through the years, especially in recent years when she was in Sacred Heart Convent and then Maria Regina. It is impossible to tell you how much she looked forward to and enjoyed those visits!
Jacqueline was raised in a devout Catholic family and so it was not a surprise when, at the young age of 13, she decided to enter the Juniorate of the Sisters of St. Joseph and, as they say, she never looked back. She graduated from the Juniorate in 1940 and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph the following September and here we are, almost 81 years later, celebrating her and her rich, full and meaningful life.
Jacqueline earned a BA in Sociology from St. Francis College and a Masters in History from the College of St. Rose in Albany. She taught all her life…she taught every grade, from 1A to high school…and she loved every minute and her students loved her. She was strict but fair, and children found her easy to relate to. One of our sisters remembers that she lived with Jacqueline in West Babylon where her niece, who was about 5 years old, would visit her frequently. The niece and Jacqueline, whom she promptly labeled Jacky, became fast friends, and would go off hand in hand to have adventures. The nickname stuck, and she was fondly called Jacky during the following years.
Today we have a number of sisters living in intercongregational settings, but back in the 1970’s it was quite unusual. Jacqueline was a pioneer! She lived for several years with Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary in Patchogue. One of them, on hearing of her death, emailed to say how much they had loved living with her, and how the parishioners loved her too. She touched many lives while she was there.
Sister Jacqueline lived in many houses during her 81 years, and she touched many lives in them too. She always tried to contribute in whatever way she could. After she retired from teaching she would drive sisters to doctors appointments and was alert to different ways in which she could be helpful and supportive. She was very prayerful, and her prayer provided the energy and love she then shared with all those around her.
In the last few years Jacqueline lived in Maria Regina where, last January, she celebrated her 100th Birthday. Although the restrictions caused by the Covid 19 pandemic made it impossible to have the big party we would have loved to have had for her, the nursing staff of Maria Regina threw her a big bash, complete with cake and ice cream and all the fixins…another sign of how much she meant to so many.
Today we thank God for the gift of Jacqueline…Jacky…McDermott, and for all that she was and all that she did while she was with us. She lived her life as a Sister of St. Joseph with a generous spirit and a loving heart. Sister Mary Jacqueline McDermott,CSJ died on June 5, 2021 in the 81st year of her religious life.