Stories from the Archives

Our First IHM Jubilarians

The celebration for our Jubilarians gives us a chance to reflect on the first Silver and Golden Jubilarians of the Scranton Community.

The celebration for our Jubilarians gives us a chance to reflect on the first Silver and Golden Jubilarians of the Scranton Community—Sister M. Matilda Delhanty and Sister M. Xavier Byrne, respectively. Sister Immaculata Gillespie describes the “first silver crowning” held at Mount Saint Mary’s on May 8, 1903.

“Two maids of honor, little seminary girls, preceded Mother Superior and Sister Matilda to the altar where Sister received her crown.”1

Sister M. Matilda Delhanty

Sister Matilda was born in Kirkwood, Susquehanna County, PA (now Broome County, NY) (1849-1920) and baptized Catharine Theresa Delhanty. Both her father, Charles Delhanty and mother, Johanna Sullivan Delhanty were born in Ireland. Sister Matilda entered in May, 1875, received on April 25, 1876, and professed on May 8, 1878. Sadly, she died at St. Cecilia’s on April 20, 1920.

Sister M. Xavier Byrne

Our first Golden Jubilarian was also born Catherine, Catherine Byrne, on August 13, 1844 in Montrose, PA. Catherine had the distinction of receiving her First Holy Communion from Bishop John Neumann. Her parents were Honorable Colonel Peter J. Byrne and Mary Anastasia Dunlap Byrne. Peter Burne was instrumental in obtaining the charter for the incorporation of Laurel Hill Seminary, later called Academy. Catherine was anxious to enter the convent and applied to the IHMs when she was only 15 years of age. She was too young and so was not accepted until February 19, 1861. Apparently, the winters were so cold in Susquehanna that the younger postulants were sent from Susquehanna to Reading. Sister Xavier was received on August 22, 1861 and professed in May of 1863. She was stationed in Manayunk, Frankford, (near Philadelphia), and then Susquehanna in 1867. Sister Xavier was stationed in Susquehanna in 1871. At the time of the establishment of the Scranton Diocese and the splitting of the IHM Congregation in Pennsylvania, she chose to remain with Scranton. She held the office of local superior for many years. We do know she was stationed at Williamsport in 1878. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee on May 24, 1913, at 9:30 a.m. in the Marywood Seminary Chapel as is noted on the 110-year-old invitation pictured here.

Sister Xavier, the oldest member of the Scranton Congregation at the time, died at Elmhurst in the 72nd year of her religious life at age 89. She attended the community exercises until days before her death. Sister Immaculata Gillespie refers to her as a “precious link between the old and the new…”2 As we look from our past to our new horizons, may this most amazing woman intercede for us.

Sisters Beth Pearson and Bernadette Thomas are deeply indebted to Sister M. Helene Thomas Connolly, IHM, Immaculata IHM Archivist, for the photo and information on Sister Xavier.

  1. Gillespie, Sister M. Immaculata. The Sisters of the I.H.M. New York, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1921. pp. 293-294. ↩︎
  2. Ibid, pp. 292, 293. ↩︎

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