Obituary

 

Sister Joan Ciraula, IHM

Sister Joan Ciraula, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Moya) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, March 27, 2015 at the Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on December 26, 1931 in Pittsburgh, PA, and given the name Josephine Joan. She was the daughter of the late Anthony Joseph and Mary M. Kelly Ciraula. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1952, made her temporary profession of vows on August 3, 1955, and final profession of her vows on August 3, 1958.   

Sister Joan served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Agnes Elementary School in Washington, NC, from 1955 to 1958; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1958 to 1959; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1959 to 1966; St. Thomas Elementary School in Providence, RI, from 1966 to 1970; Most Holy Rosary Elementary School in Syracuse, NY, from 1970 to 1974; and St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Binghamton, NY, from 1974 to 1976.

Sister served as librarian at the following schools: St. Mary of the Mount Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1976 to 1982; and Marywood University in Scranton, PA, from 1982 to 2013.

Sister Joan also served as a Eucharistic minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA, from 2013 until the time of her death.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in education, and a Master of Science degree in library science, both from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by a brother, Francis; and a sister, Sister Mary Canice, CSJ.

She is survived by two brothers, Anthony of Pittsburgh, PA, and Joseph of the Philippines; and a sister, Sister Mary Sarto Ciraula, CP of Pittsburgh, PA; and nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be Tuesday, March 31 at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Monday, March 30, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Tuesday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.


Reflections given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Joan Ciraula, Wake 3/30/15

Good afternoon, Sisters and Friends,

We gather this afternoon to celebrate the gentle, loving life of Sister Joan Ciraula.  Our hearts are full of gratitude for this wonderful, holy woman who served God so faithfully during her lifetime. 

Throughout her sixty years of religious life, Joan witnessed her love and dedication to God and to serving others.  She taught in elementary schools in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island and also served as a school librarian in Pittsburgh.  In 1976, Joan began a thirty-seven year tenure as librarian at her beloved Marywood University, where her kindness and respect for the students and the entire university family served as an example to all.  For the past two years, she served as a Eucharistic Minister at Our Lady of Peace. 

We rejoice in the gift of Joan’s life with us.  Her days among us spoke of her trust in God and her great gratitude for all that God and life gave her.  She never complained and was always ready with a word or act of kindness or support whenever needed.  Her integrity and quiet, unassuming manner drew others to her, and they were blessed to share the depth of her unwavering trust in God.  Her capacity to love others was rooted in that love of God, and she shared that love tirelessly and faithfully.

Joan will be missed by all of us, but we rejoice that she is now at home with her God and enjoying eternal life with her parents, Mary and Anthony, her sister, Sister Mary Canice CSJ, and her brother, Francis, who are now reunited with her as she is welcomed into the joy of eternal life by the God she loved and served so well.

Our prayers are with her sister, Sister Mary Sarto, CP, and her brothers, Anthony and Joseph, her nephew, Greg and his wife, Mary Lou, her two great-nephews, Jeff  and Chris and his wife, Christa.  We pray too for her close friends, especially her dear friend, Sr. Dolores; her band members and her mission group; the sisters in Our Lady of Lourdes community, with whom she lived, and all the sisters and staff who live and minister here at the IHM Center; the administrators, staff, and sisters at Our Lady of Peace; her many IHM friends; and all who knew and loved her.  We ask the God of all consolation to comfort them at this time of loss. 

And so, let us pray now in deep gratitude…

She lived justly, loved tenderly, and walked humbly with her God.

Loving and compassionate God, we gather here today in faith, though our hearts are heavy with sadness as we mourn the death of our Sister Joan Ciraula.  For those of us who knew and loved her, Joan’s death came too quickly.  For our purposes, though we knew she was ill, we wish that she would have been given length of days so we might spend time with her to support her as she comforted those to whom she brought eucharist each day, enjoy her laugh and gentle wisdom, and express our gratitude to her for the countless ways she shared life and love with us.  Yet through our faith and your grace, O God, we are comforted by the certainty that Joan walked right into your healing, loving embrace and is now enjoying your eternal peace.

Joan’s life was dedicated to service.  She began her IHM ministry as a devoted teacher of elementary school children.  Later she served as a school librarian before beginning, in 1976, a thirty-seven year tenure as librarian at Marywood University.  For the past two years, she served as a Eucharistic Minister at Our Lady of Peace.  Joan was filled with gratitude for the gift of life itself. Those fortunate enough to live and work with her knew the depth of her support and generosity. Her capacity to love others was rooted in her love of you, O God, and she shared that love tirelessly and faithfully.

 We pause to remember Joan’s parents, Mary and Anthony, her sister, Sister Mary Canice, CSJ, and her brother, Francis, with whom she is rejoicing today in heaven.  We pray for all those who mourn her loss, especially her sister, Sister Mary Sarto, CP, and her brothers, Anthony and Joseph, her nephew, Greg and his wife, Mary Lou, and her two great-nephews, Jeff and Chris and his wife, Christa.  Our prayers are also with her friends, especially her dear friend, Sr. Dolores: her band members and her mission group; the sisters in Our Lady of Lourdes community, with whom she lived, and all the sisters and staff who live and minister here at the IHM Center; the administrators, staff, and sisters at Our Lady of Peace; her many IHM friends; and all who knew and loved her.

We pray to Joan now and give thanks for the gift she was to all of us.  We return her to the God she loved and served so well throughout her entire life.  May her example lead all of us to deepen our own spirit of gratitude for God’s many gifts.

Grant eternal rest to Joan, O Lord, and may your everlasting light shine upon her for all eternity.  Amen.


Sister Joan Ciraula, Funeral 3/31/15

Good morning, Everyone.  As we gather in prayer to celebrate the life of Sr. Joan, I want to welcome her nephew, Greg and his wife, Mary Lou, Joan’s friends, her band members, who will be celebrating their sixtieth jubilee this year (Joan is already celebrating her jubilee!), the sisters of Our Lady of Lourdes community, with whom she lived, and all who are able to be with us today.

I would like to thank Father Kilpatrick for his presence with us this morning.  I have no doubt that Joan is pleased.

I also want to welcome Sr. Anne Munley and so many members of the Marywood University faith community, many of whom were co-workers of Joan. A special thank you to the Marywood University Honor Guard.  I’m sure Joan is delighted.

I also want to express our thanks to Srs. Ann Marie, Anne Mary, Celesta, and Eleanor Mary for taking care of all the arrangements yesterday and today; our maintenance and housekeeping staff here at the Center for their assistance; Srs. Jean, Eleanor Mary, and Mary Kay, the administrators at OLP, and the nurses and staff at OLP, and Hospice Sacred Heart, who were so attentive to Joan during her recent days there.

She lived justly, loved tenderly, and walked humbly with her God.   (Micah 6:8)

It occurred to me, as I reflected on the life of Sr. Joan, that these words from Micah truly capture to a T the essence of who she was.  Of course, as I was thanking everyone a moment ago, and noting that I was sure Joan would be pleased with their presence here today, it also occurred to me that Joan, as we all know, was not one to seek attention or accolades for herself, so I’m pretty sure this funeral gathering of so many on her behalf is not at all on her “favorites” list.  In fact, it’s a very good bet that she is not even watching this on the celestial big screen tv, but is probably praying for all of us at Mary’s grotto in heaven right now!

How appropriate that last Friday, as we – finally - began to hear and see some signs of spring’s new life awakening around us, Joan went home to her new life as well.  For those of us who knew and loved her, Joan’s death came too quickly.  For our human purposes, though we knew she was ill, we wish that we had more time with her so we might support her as she comforted those to whom she brought eucharist each day, enjoy her laugh and gentle wisdom, and express our gratitude to her for the countless ways she shared life and love with us.  Yet through our faith and God’s grace, we are comforted by the certainty that last Friday Joan walked right into the healing, loving embrace of her God and is now enjoying eternal peace.  Her Easter Sunday came early and we cannot help but rejoice for her.

Joan’s entire life was dedicated to service of others, as the wonderful stories shared yesterday afternoon so clearly showed.  She began her IHM ministry as a devoted teacher of elementary students in schools in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island, and she later served as a school librarian in Pittsburgh.  In 1976, Joan began a thirty-seven year tenure as librarian at her beloved Marywood University, where no task was too small or too large for her willing spirit.  For the past two years, she served as a Eucharistic Minister at Our Lady of Peace, continuing her ministry to serve others. 

Joan’s quiet, unassuming generosity, deep compassion, quick humor, and availability touched thousands of lives, and those lives are better, brighter, and more meaningful because of that encounter.  Her capacity to love others was rooted in her deep trust and love of God.  There was nothing superficial about Joan’s faith or her relationships with others; she was the real deal.   It was that profound and intimate relationship with her God and Mary that gave her such peace and strength.  Even as she faced her terminal illness, Joan continued to witness to everyone her deep gratitude for all that God and life gave her and for the gift of each person.

We are all richer for having journeyed along with Sr. Joan.  We will miss her, but we rejoice that she is now at home with her God and enjoying eternal life with her parents, Mary and Anthony, her sister, Sister Mary Canice, CSJ, and her brother, Francis.  We pray for all of us whose lives have been touched by Joan, especially her sister, Sister Mary Sarto, CP, her brothers, Anthony and Joseph, and her nephew, Greg and his wife, Mary Lou, and their families.  Our prayers are also with her friends, especially her dear friend, Dolores; her band members and her mission group; the sisters in Our Lady of Lourdes community, with whom she lived, and all the sisters and staff who live and minister here at the IHM Center; the administrators, staff, and sisters at Our Lady of Peace; her many IHM friends; and all who knew and loved her.  We give gratitude to God for this holy life and pray that perpetual light and happiness will shine upon her for all eternity.

Dolores will now place the scriptures on Joan’s casket, for indeed Joan heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it and received life to the full . . . the Word now beckons her home.


Reprinted from "In Memoriam" section of Journey, Fall 2015 issue

 
Sister Joan Ciraula took all of us by surprise when on March 27 she passed to her eternal reward from a life so well spent on this earth. Her memory is especially dear to the Jubilarians who are celebrating sixty years of religious profession this year. Our memories of six decades find expression in adjectives and phrases like kind, unassuming, concern for the poor, and most certainly prayerful.

As a friend and fellow jubilarian, I was privileged to spend a great deal of time with Sister Joan during her last days. The reality of her physical condition was, of course, traumatic, but it was overshadowed by the simplicity of her life, which she lived in total abandonment to the Lord and in devotion to His Mother. I could tell many stories about Sister Joan, but I know she would not want me to go on and on in praise of her. There is one, however, that I want everyone to hear about.

One day, when we were packing for her move to Our Lady of Peace Residence, I recalled that the following Sunday would be Palm Sunday. Suddenly, out of a very weak condition, she found the strength to dance around the room singing, “Palm Sunday! Hosanna!  Hosanna!” Where did the strength come from? I truly believe it rose up from the depth of her spirituality. Holy Week was coming, and at the end there would be the Resurrection.

by Sister Dolores Filicko, IHM