Obituary

 

Sister M. Alexius Fitzgerald, IHM

Sister M. Alexius Fitzgerald, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

She was born on December 15, 1926, in Brooklyn, NY, and given the name Margaret Mary. She was the daughter of the late Robert and Margaret Cuddeback Fitzgerald. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1944, made temporary profession of her vows on May 8, 1947, and final profession of her vows on August 2, 1950.

Sister Alexius served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Patrick Elementary School in Spangler, PA, in 1947; Holy Angels Elementary School in Hayes, PA, from 1947 to 1950; St. Monica Elementary School in Raleigh, NC, from 1950 to 1951; Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School in Inwood, NY, from 1951 to 1952; St. Thomas Elementary School in Providence, RI, from 1952 to 1959; St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, MD, from 1959 to 1972; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1972 to 1982; and St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Clinton, MD, from 1985 to 2000. She served as librarian at St. Angela Hall Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1982 to 1985.

Sister Alexius also served as a seamstress at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA, from 2000 to 2010.

From 2010 until the time of her death, Sister Alexius was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in education/English, and Master of Science degree in education from Marywood College. 

She was preceded in death by two brothers, Robert and Thomas; and four sisters, Eileen, Frances F. Kane, Sister Gonzales, CSJ, and Agnes Geary.

She is survived by two brothers, Joseph of Hempstead, NY; and Stephen of Brevard, NC; a sister, Bernadette Burroughs of Blacksburg, VA; nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

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.

Funeral link: https://video.ibm.com/recorded/129353005

Combined Vespers Prayer Service: https://video.ibm.com/recorded/130170283


Reprinted from "In Memoriam" section of Journey, Spring 2021 issue  

Sister M. Alexius Fitzgerald, IHM

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President, at Sister's funeral on Tuesday, February 9, 2021:

A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels.

As most of you know, Alexius was an excellent seamstress, so these words on a plague that hung in her room are especially appropriate, even more so because they capture the priority she placed on her prayer relationship with God. There are many words that come to mind when I think about Alexius: dedicated, intelligent, humble, determined, generous, and many more, but her fidelity to her call as an IHM stands out to me. She was so in awe of God’s call to IHM that she dedicated each day of her life in thanksgiving to God for that gift. She struggled with some of the changes to the structures of religious life after Vatican II, but her daily response to living out her vocation was unwavering, bolstered by her absolute trust in God. That bespoke another quality of Alexius – she was never about herself, always about others. Those who had the opportunity to live or minister with her experienced firsthand her many acts of simple generosity, done without fanfare, which demonstrated her thoughtfulness more eloquently than any words.

Throughout her seventy-four years of religious life, Alexius dedicated herself to the ministry of education in schools in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland. She began as an elementary school teacher of several different subjects, including music, for which she had no formal training but still she managed to conduct huge classes of children in school concerts that won the praise of parents and administrators as well. Later she developed a passion for teaching library skills to her young students, training them to do basic research and encouraging them to read more in order to find out about students and life in other countries. She was a firm but caring teacher and took the time to know what each student needed in order to better grasp the subject matter. Her students were her first priority. She cared, and that was her legacy at each of the schools where she went.
She taught not only by word but by example as well, and those lessons made a difference in the lives of many.

One of the very special gifts Alexius shared throughout her life was her talent as a seamstress. Wherever she went, including here at OLP, the sewing machine came with her. Whether it was making or mending habits, or later, jackets or hemming skirts, or curtains, or tablecloths, or any number of decorative items, Alexius’ sewing skills were in high demand. In fact, she spent two summers making from scratch all the draperies in what is now the IHM Center building. From 2000 to 2010, she served as a seamstress while living at the Center. For the past eleven years, Alexius was a prayer minister here at OLP, where she continued to hem and mend and create using her sewing machine.

In reflecting upon Alexius’ life, I am struck by how gifted she was at making beautiful things with a needle and thread and countless tiny stitches and how she also brought beauty and kindness and understanding to so many others by the small stitches that were the events in her life each day. Her patience and persistence with her students, her quiet acts of thoughtfulness on behalf of others were deeds that may seem small and unimportant to those who pursue notoriety or power, but they were acts of self-sacrifice and love, reminiscent of a savior born in a small stable rather than a mighty palace. She lived her life faithful to her call, faithful to the people and circumstances where she found herself, faithful to God’s work.

We remember very specially today Alexius’ parents, Margaret and Robert, her sisters, Eileen, Frances, Sister Gonzales, CSJ, and Agnes, her
brothers, Robert and Thomas, and other relatives and friends who have gone before her and with whom she is certainly celebrating a joyous
reunion in heaven today.

We pray for those people who shared life with Alexius, especially her sister, Bernadette, her brothers, Joseph and Stephen, her nieces and nephews and their families, her IHM sisters, and all who lived and ministered with her.

Hanging on the wall in Alexius’ room was a decorative needlepoint in honor of her fiftieth jubilee, with her name sewn in under the words, so I think she made it herself. The words on the design are: “Your Golden Jubilee, a time to...remember your vows and renew them, reflect on the dreams that are your—recall all the best of your good times, rejoice in a love that endures” —simple statements of profound fidelity and trust from a woman who would prefer, I think, that we remember her not for what she did, but for who she sought to be: a faithful Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As we begin this celebration of Alexius’ life among us. I ask Sister Mary Kay to place Alexius’ bible on her casket, for indeed, she heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it, and received life to the full... the Word now beckons Alexius home.