Stories from the Archives

The First Nun to Die from St. Leo’s

Meet Sister M. Sixtus Murray.

It was 2:00 p.m. Thursday, the 24th of May in 1894, and Redemptorist Father Thummel of New York had finished the retreat in the morning. Friends and family of the soon to be novices and professed sisters gathered in St. Rose Convent, Carbondale, to see Sister M. Sixtus Murray and three other novices receive the black veil of a professed sister. Bishop William O’Hara, Bishop of Scranton, officiated at the ceremony.

Sister M. Sixtus Murray, IHM
Sister M. Sixtus Murray, IHM

Who was Sister Sixtus and why is she of interest, you might ask? She was born in Yorktown, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1870, given the name Sarah, and baptized at St. Patrick Church in Audenried, Pennsylvania. Annals had not yet been written the year she died and there is no record of her assignments except those recorded in the newspapers at the time of her death. In addition to Ashley, PA, Sister Sixtus had been stationed at St. Rosalia’s in Pittsburgh; St. Cecilia’s in Exeter; St. Cecilia’s in Masontown; and St. Patrick Orphanage in West Scranton. She spent six years in Idaho. She is also recorded as having studied at several of the leading Catholic colleges in the United States.

While stationed at St. Leo’s, at age 59, she became quite ill and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre where she died on November 12, 1931. She was the first IHM to die from St. Leo’s in Ashley, PA. As reported in several newspapers, more than 700 grade school and high school students at St. Leo’s attended her funeral Mass. Sisters from several other orders, seated in the center aisle of the Church, also attended the liturgy. It was recorded that hundreds of members of the Ashley community were also present at the Mass.


  • “Sister Sixtus, Ashley Nun, Is Paid a Tribute.”, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News, November 14, 1931.
  • “Reception at St. Rose Convent,” The Evening Herald, May 25, 1894.
  • “Sister Mary Sixtus Has Passed Away.”, Pittston Gazette, November 13, 1931.

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