In Memory

Mother M. Cyril Conway, IHM

August 27, 1858 – June 6, 1942

Mother M. Cyril Conway, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Saturday, June 6, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

She was born on August 27, 1858 in Pittston, Pennsylvania, and given the name Ellen. She was the daughter of Henry J. and Margaret Conway. She entered into the IHM Congregation on June 5,1876 at St. Cecilia Novitiate in Scranton, PA, received the religious habit on February 13, 1877 at St. Rose Novitiate in Carbondale, PA, and made profession of her religious vows on August 27, 1878 at St. Cecilia Novitiate in Scranton, PA.

Mother Cyril was elected the Superior General of the IHM Congregation in August of 1901. She walked nearly every day from St. Cecilia’s, Scranton to supervise work at new motherhouse site. The new motherhouse at Mt. St. Mary’s was completed in 1903. She constructed shrine to Our Lady of Victory in Thanksgiving that a proposed railroad was not built through the grounds. During her tenure the following missions were open in the western USA: 1903: St. Lawrence School in Portland, Oregon; 1903: IHM Academy in Couer d’Alene, Idaho; 1905: St. Joseph’s School in Spokane, Washington. And in 1909, the St. John’s Home (an orphanage) was opened in Altoona, PA.

On November 2, 1905, Mother M. Cyril accepted Casmira Kaupas and two other young women into the formation program at Mount St. Mary. On August 29, 1907, Maria, Immaculata and Concepta were professed. This day marked the birth of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Casimir (Lithuanian Sisters) founded to serve Lithuanian immigrants.

Father Jankola sought the assistance of Mother M. Cyril to direct new candidates who would form another new congregation to serve Slovak immigrants. On September 11, 1909, the celebration of the founding of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius (Slovak Sisters) occurred.

She was preceded in death by two brothers, Edward and Myles, and a sister, Jennie.

She is survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment is at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, Pennsylvania.

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.

“Everybody felt that Mother Cyril was well-chosen to succeed Mother Mary. Her training by heroic guides amid the privations of early days, her experience as bursar, superior, and mistress of various schools, combined with her natural keenness and width of vision, fitted Mother Cyril admirably for the circumstance in which she was placed. The members of her council likewise had the wisdom and culture of experienced religious guides and so were equipped to complement her variously in the magnitude of her ambition for her beloved community. “

“At the opening of the annual retreat in August, 1913, Mother Cyril resigned her office into the hands of the Right Reverend Bishop with the comfort of heart of a servant of God in the grand work He had given her to accomplish. Much of its execution was due to her great-mindedness and her holiness, to her self-sacrificing spirit and to her prayerfulness, which was a constant edification to her Sisters. Appreciation of her work was not confined to her community or to Catholic ecclesiastics and laity, for anywhere that Mother Cyril is known, the admiration and respect of everyone, regardless of religion or personal feeling, attends her name. Mount Saint Mary’s, dedicated to the Blessed Mother under her title of the Immaculate Conception, is a fitting memorial to the life work of Mother Cyril. It was established by her on a solid foundation, in a spirit that draws a rapidly increasing list of patrons and manifestations of public favor. Though retired, she brought the world to her by her goodness, she elevated its taste and taught it the devoted practice of Gospel precepts. The tribute, not consonant with the modesty of Mother Cyril, must be recorded of her that she left the work entrusted to her care at Mount Saint Mary’s, a subject of rejoicing for angels and for men.”

Excerpted from The Sisters of the I.H.M.: The Story of The Founding of The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Their Work In The Scranton Diocese by Sister M. Immaculata Gillespie, IHM, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, NY, 1921, p. 277, 381

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