In Memory

Sister Anita Maleski, IHM

February 22, 1946 – March 3, 2021

Sister Anita Maleski, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at her home in Dupont.

She was born on February 22, 1946, in Avoca, PA, and given the name Joan Elizabeth. She was the daughter of the late John and Elizabeth Brezak Maleski. She entered the IHM Congregation in on September 8, 1963, and made her temporary profession of vows on June 27, 1966, and her final profession of vows on August 22, 1971.

Sister Anita served as a science teacher in the following schools: St. Mary School in Goldsboro, NC, from 1968 to 1973; St. Agnes Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1973 to 1980; Bishop Klonowski High School in Scranton, PA, from 1980 to 1982; and Cathedral High School in New York, NY, from 1982 to 1984.

Sister Anita attended Pace University in New York City, NY, from 1984 to 1988.

Sister Anita was an assistant professor of nursing at Marywood College in Scranton, PA, from 1988 to 1993. She served as a certified registered nurse practitioner at the Marian Convent in Scranton, PA, from 1988 to 2005; and at Marywood University and for the IHM Congregation in Scranton, PA, from 1993 to 2012.

Sister also served as an English as a Second Language instructor at St. John Neumann Parish in Scranton, PA, from 2013 until the time of her death.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education/general science from Marywood College, a Master of Arts in Education degree in science/biology from East Carolina University, a Master of Nursing degree from Pace University, and a Master of Nursing degree in family nurse practitioner from Pace University.

She is preceded in death by a sister, Mary Maleski Fruehwirth.

She is survived by cousins, Bernadette Oschal of Moosic, PA, Robert Maleski of Madison Township, PA, and Anthony P. Chmielewski of Dupont, PA, other cousins, and brother-in-law, John Fruehwirth of Syracuse, NY. 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.


Combined Vespers Prayer Service:

Sister Anita Maleski, IHM
Funeral Eulogy, March 10, 2021
by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM, Congregation President

“The miracle is not that we do this work
but that we are happy to do it”

Mother Theresa

During this past week, I have heard some wonderful stories about Anita and her outreach and dedication to so many that these words of Mother Teresa captured for me the true source of her sense of vocation and mission as a nurse practitioner. Her love for others, her fidelity to her call as an IHM and the profession of nursing, her commitment to serve others, and her calm but ever generous heart all came from her deep inner faith in a God she loved deeply and unreservedly and who she trusted loved her in the same way. That truth gives us comfort today as we continue to grapple with the mystery of this divine love that called Anita home suddenly and too soon in our eyes, but in the fullness of God’s time for her.

Anita touched and truly shaped countless lives and hearts by the way she lived hers. She taught science in elementary schools in North Carolina and Maryland and in high schools in Pennsylvania and New York. She loved seeing her students get excited doing a lab experiment or gain a new understanding of the importance of caring for the environment. That’s what attracted her to the field of science originally, she wrote in her early years as a teacher. Then after teaching for sixteen years, Anita’s love of science coupled with her desire to help others led her to a career shift into nursing and a master of nursing degree as a family nurse practitioner. Following the completion of her studies, she ministered as an assistant professor of nursing at Marywood College for several years. From 1988 to 2012, she shared her skills and caring manner as nurse practitioner at our Marian Convent, Maywood University, and our IHM Congregation. For the past eight years, Anita also taught ESL classes at our IHM sponsored center at St. John Neumann parish in South Scranton.

There is no doubt that Anita absolutely loved being a nurse. She challenged her nursing students to give their best effort and would not settle for less. While they complained as students about how exacting she was, Anita knew from her own experience that they would soon realize how critical that training would be to their later successes. Her desire for perfection was rooted in her respect for each of them as individuals and in her deep concern for the well-being of their future patients who would be depending on them for their care. That for Anita was what her profession was all about and why, to paraphrase Mother Theresa’s words, she truly was happy to do it.

In each of the places where Anita ministered, she left an indelible mark of professionalism, care, and kindness. It was not so much what she did, but how she did it that impacted us so fully. Her generous spirit, her compassion, her thoughtfulness, her commitment to serving others, especially the poor, inspire us and touch us deeply, even today. Her calm, attentive presence conveyed her deep sense that each person was a sacred gift in her care, a belief rooted in her own faith and trust in God that is the essence of the spiritual journey we are all on.

Throughout her life, Anita was dedicated to her family. Her loving care for them, especially for her Mom and her sister, Mary, had no limits. As we pray with and to Anita today, we also remember in our prayers her parents, Elizabeth and John, and her sister, Mary, who welcomed her into eternal life last week with open arms. We pray especially for her cousins, Bernie, Bob, and Tony, her brother-in-law, John, her loving friend, Dorothy, her Band members, her IHM sisters and associates, her neighbors and friends in Dupont, and all who shared life with Anita.

In his Lenten reflection for today, Father Joe Sica wrote that we ought to surround ourselves with people who demonstrate a positive attitude, have faith, and deliberately seek to understand and value others. He wrote that such people are role models for us in that they “run their lives on empathy, encouragement, optimism, and inspiration. They’re not defeated by their mistakes, and they demonstrate how to contribute to life and leave the world a better place.” I think in many ways, Anita was such a role model for us, though in her humility, she would never think that of herself. The following excerpt from a prayer for nurses illustrates those same qualities and I think describes standards Anita tried to emulate:

Let [me] not forget that nursing is fundamentally about
being with people in need.
It is about touch … a listening presence …
a willing and compassionate heart
that sees beyond symptoms and signs of illness
to a person in need and to their community of concern.

Help [me] to embrace the charism that is nursing …
to make it [my] own and in so doing to bring your healing presence
into the lives of people in need.

“A Nurse’s Prayer” by Jean DeBlois, CSJ

So, with prayerful remembrance this morning, we honor the memory of our Sister Anita, who has stepped over the threshold of this life to be embraced fully in the mystery of God. May we live our lives as faithfully as Anita did and come one day to be embraced in this same eternal mystery.

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