In Memory

Mother Mary Francis Henry, IHM

October 27, 1835 – October 11, 1912

Mother Mary Francis Henry, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, October 11, 1912.

She was born on October 27, 1835 in Sligo, Ireland, and given the name Margaret. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1852, and first settled in Paterson, New Jersey, then later moved to Carbondale, PA. She entered into the IHM Congregation at St. Joseph’s Novitiate in Susquehanna, PA, in 1863. She received the religious habit on November 15,1863, and made profession of her vows on August 25, 1865. She was one of the original 12 sisters who elected to remain with the Scranton branch in 1871.

Mother Mary Francis enjoyed her years of teaching children in our IHM mission schools, inlcuding at St. John the Evangelist School in Pittston, PA, where she also served as superior. She was a highly accomplished artist and musician.

Mother Mary Francis was appointed as the Superior General of the IHM Congregation by Bishop William O’Hara in August of 1877, and served in this role for two terms until 1889. Under her leadership in 1883, the Congregation became a legally incorporated body. She also served as sister assistant to Mother Cyril Conway.

From 1906 until the time of her death, Mother Mary Francis served as a prayer minister.

The funeral with Mass of Christian Requiem will be held on Monday, October 14, at Mount St. Mary’s in Scranton. Interment will follow the Mass on Monday at the Marywood College Cemetery, on the grounds of Marywood College in Scranton, 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.

“A week after the closing of the annual retreat in August, 1877, the Right Reverend Bishop appointed the new Mother Superior, Sister M. Francis, to succeed Mother Joseph. There were many among the older members who felt that the congregation was large enough to warrant the holding of an election according to the provisions of the rule, but since the Bishop saw fit to make an appointment instead they did not demur. Besides, they felt that no better choice than Mother Francis could have been made. She enjoyed the love and esteem of all the Sisters; she had been educated at old Saint Joseph’s, had entered the congregation at Reading, was one of the original twelve of the new foundation, and had proved herself an exemplary religious and a successful teacher. During her term of office as superior at Saint John’s, Pittston, she had shown herself a capable administrator. As Mother Superior, her career proved that Bishop O’Hara had made no mistake in his choice.

Mother Francis at once took up the duties of her office with characteristic energy and determination. It was a time of financial depression, and for the first few years very skillful management was required to make ends meet. The crisis was successfully tided over and the community put on a firm basis. Practical lessons in thrift were also given to the pupils in the school. During one era of high cost of living the graduates were instructed to wear light calico dresses, thus eliminating the cost of elaborate gowns for the occasion, which action was highly commended by parents, and it is needless to say that the simplicity of their daughters’ attire served but to enhance the charm of commencement day. “

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, pgs. 168, 169

“On Friday morning, October 11, 1912, the community was saddened by the news of the death of our venerated Mother Francis. Her death was not unexpected. Since her retirement from the office of sister-assistant in 1906, the intervening years had been spent in making preparation for the great event which she herself felt was not far off. Her funeral was held from Mount Saint Mary’s, Monday, October 14th. The Mass of Requiem was celebrated by the Right Reverend T. F. Coffey, V.G. The Right Reverend Bishop preached the funeral sermon.

Mother Francis, known in the world as Margaret Henry, was born in Sligo, Ireland, October, 1835. She was educated at the Presentation Convent, Dublin. In 1852 she came to this country, living for a time in Paterson, N. J. Afterward she came to Carbondale, and it was from this latter place that she entered the novitiate of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at old Saint Joseph’s in 1863. On the Feast of the Presentation, November 21st of the same year, she received the habit from the Right Reverend James F. Wood, D.D. She was professed at Reading, August 22, 1865. Mother Francis was one of the original twelve who elected to remain on the new foundation when the separation from the mother house in Reading was decreed in 1871. The admirable work she accomplished for her community has already been told.

Mother Francis was a cultured gentlewoman of the old school and an exemplary religious. Highly accomplished, an artist and a musician, she was well
fitted to inspire others with a love for the beautiful in nature and art. A woman of high ideals, she ever strove to inculcate in those who came under her influence a love for whatever was high and ennobling. Her religious life was marked by an exact observance of her holy rule. Even in her declining years she was carefully observant and was especially exact with regard to the good use of her time. No one ever saw her idle. Her marked administrative capacity was shown in the various positions of trust which she held in the community, and she lived long enough to witness its marvellous (sic) growth. Her many natural graces of heart and character endeared her to those under her charge, while the rectitude of her life and above all her fidelity to the rules of her congregation won for her not only the esteem and confidence of her daughters in religion but also that of the outside world with which she had to deal. Her long and saintly life was crowned by a holy and peaceful death, and Mother M. Francis has left behind her a memory spiritualized and beautiful.”

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. 351, 352

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *