Sister Mary Cecilia Maloney, MSC
Sister Cecilia was born Mary Ellen Maloney on May 8, 1909, in Ballymore, County Westmeath, Ireland. She was the second of four children born to Sarah Mier and Owen Maloney. Raised in a very happy and prayerful family, Mary Ellen felt that God would guide her to her future vocation. One of her prized possessions was a large medal that Mary Ellen wore on a chain around her neck; it turned out to be an image of Our Lady of Sorrows!!
Chosen as one of the local girls to attend the Sisters of Mercy School in Moate, Ireland, Mary Ellen was among those recruited by Sr. Aloysius Lawrence, an American Marianite. After much prayer and discussion, Mary Ellen left Ireland in July of 1927 for Précigné, France, to become a postulant in the Marianites of Holy Cross. Her decision brought great pleasure to her family, especially to her father whose sister was also a religious. On April 9, 1928, Mary Ellen received the habit and the name Sister Mary Cecilia. Sister made temporary vows on April 25, 1929 at the motherhouse in Précigné. In November of 1929, she was missioned to French Hospital in New York City and made her final profession there on April 25, 1932.
After adjusting to life in the United States, Cecilia entered St. Catherine School of Nursing in Brooklyn in 1935 and graduated with an RN in 1938. She continued her studies and graduated with a BSN from St. John University in Brooklyn. Most of her nursing career was spent in supervision and administrative duties, but Sister’s other talents served her well at St. Louis Academy, Staten Island, New York; and at St. Mary of the Lakes in Medford, New Jersey.
Her nursing assignments included French Hospital, New York; Our Lady of Princeton, St. Francis Hospital and Mater Dei Nursing Home, all in New Jersey. Sister Cecilia often recalled that in 1958, she had been appointed a member of the Infectious Diseases Committee at French Hospital, a task that she and others fulfilled so well that the Hospital did not fall victim to the influenza epidemic which killed so many people. At other times she thought of the action taken on the advice of Cardinal Spellman that the Marianites gradually withdraw from French Hospital and terminate their contract with the French Benevolent Society in 1963.
In August 1967, the Marianites joyfully assumed the operation of a new diocesan nursing home in the Camden, New Jersey diocese. Bishop James Shad welcomed Sister Cecilia as administrator and three other Marianite nurses to Mater Dei Nursing Home in Elmer, New Jersey. One break from her duties found Sr. Cecilia in 1973 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of Father Moreau at the Solitude in Le Mans, France. Cecilia was one of three Marianites representing the Province of the North at that event.
In 2001, Cecilia went to McAuley Health Care Center to regain some of her original energy and some months later, she returned to Mater Dei for a couple of additional years of service. On January 26, 2004, Sister took up permanent residence at McAuley Health Care Center in Watchung, New Jersey, where she lived happily for almost seven additional years. For some months prior to her death, Cecilia would admit that she was just waiting and longing for God to call her home.
On Friday, January 21, 2011, Monsignor Torny, himself a 100-year old resident at McAuley, calmly and gently gave Sister Cecilia the Church’s sacrament so eagerly awaited by her.
Cecilia always gave credit for the enrichment of her spiritual life to the marvelous help and support provided by her sister companions. Two hours after her anointing, Sister breathed her last breath here on earth and was welcomed into God’s loving embrace where she joined her family and her beloved departed Marianite sisters, including Rosemary whose funeral Mass she had attended only one day earlier. At her death, Sister Cecilia was the oldest Marianite and would have reached the age of 102 in May.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 in the chapel of McAuley Health Care Center. Present were relatives, friends, Marianites, Sisters of Mercy, residents and staff. All prayed that Cecilia would continue to intercede for the needs of our congregation, of the Church, and of the world. Burial took place at Our Lady of Princeton cemetery in Princeton, New Jersey.
May Sister Cecilia now rest in peace after her long and wonderful journey of one hundred and one years.