In Memory

Sister Ann Marie O’Brien, IHM

July 18, 1929 – September 8, 2022

Ann Marie O'Brien, IHM

Sister Ann Marie O’Brien, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Mercita) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Thursday, September 8, 2022 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

Sister Ann Marie was born on July 18, 1929, in Avoca, PA, the daughter of the late John Earl and Mary Lizak O’Brien. Sister entered the IHM Congregation on February 2, 1947, made her temporary profession of vows on August 2, 1949, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1952. Sister Ann Marie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education/Spanish from Marywood College, and a Master of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Notre Dame.

Sister Ann Marie served as a teacher in the following schools: Immaculate Conception Elementary School in West Pittston, PA from 1949 to 1955; St. Mary Elementary School in Hollidaysburg, PA from 1955 to 1961; St. Agnes Elementary School in Lock Haven, PA from 1961 to 1964; St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY from 1964 to 1967; Maria Regina Diocesan High School in Uniondale, NY from 1967 to 1982; Bishop Hannon High School in Scranton, PA, from 1982 to 1984; and Bishop O’Hara High School in Scranton, PA, from 1996 to 2006.

Sister Ann Marie served as vice-principal at Maria Regina Diocesan High School in Uniondale, NY, from 1978 to 1982.

She also served as dean of students at Marywood College in Scranton, PA from 1984 to 1988; vice-president director of academic affairs at Holy Cross High School in Delran, NJ from 1988 to 1996; director of ministry resources for the IHM Congregation in Scranton, PA from 2006 to 2014; and support services at the IHM Center from 2014 to 2018.

From 2018 until the time of her death, Sister Ann Marie was a prayer minister at the IHM Center and Our Lady of Peace Residence, both in Scranton, PA. She is preceded in death by three brothers, Joseph, Patrick, and John (Jack), and a cousin, Sister Daniela McCarthy, IHM. She is survived by nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins, and by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Because of restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM Leadership Team Member

Sister Ann Marie O’Brien, funeral September 13, 2022

In his book of Celtic Wisdom entitled, Anam Cara, poet John O’Donohue reminds us, “One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.”

As we shared during the memorial service, Ann Marie touched numerous lives through her time as daughter, sister, aunt, IHM sister, teacher, administrator, and Dean of Students. Anyone who crossed her path was seen, embraced, and welcomed into the circle of her love. Ann Marie saw you not at face value but saw your full personhood through the eyes of your soul. It was truly a connection of the heart not unlike the image of the claddagh ring she so proudly wore.

A proud daughter of Mary and John Earl O’Brien, Ann Marie cherished every opportunity to spend time with her parents, brothers, and family on the holy sod of Avoca. She would beam with pride and love telling stories of her brothers, nephew James and family. On our many trips up the Northeast extension with Donna Korba and I, Ann Marie would share stories of growing up in Avoca, her time in school with the IHM Sisters at St. Mary’s, Marywood Seminary and Marywood College. There would be great laughter and some tender tears.

I had the pleasure of ministering and sharing community with Ann Marie and have many wonderful memories of these blessed days. I can still see Ann Marie gently redirecting the students into their classrooms as they attempted to connect with friends and plan their weekend adventures. She would look my way, give me a wink, and tell the stray student to move it along “dolly boots. In recent days, I have been blessed to hear stories of Ann Marie’s time teaching Spanish at Maria Regina, serving as Dean of Students at Marywood College as well as serving as Assistant Principal in Delran, New Jersey. Sisters at the IHM Center and Our Lady of Peace have shared stories of their time living with or ministering with Ann Marie and all noted her Irish wit and great patience, even in the most frustrating of circumstances.

Ann Marie was proud of her Irish heritage, and this is certainly reflected in our celebration today which includes a bagpiper. In these final weeks of her time with us, she was blessed to be surrounded by her nephew Jimmy and family, many IHM sisters as well as the caring staff at Our Lady of Peace Residence. We are so blessed to have walked these final steps of her journey home to God with her. It was truly Am Beannaithe (ahm ba-ne-heh), a blessed time.

In her blessing entitled “In the Leaving,” poet Jan Richardson reminds us that our final leave taking is but a next step along the journey to our home with God when she writes,

In the leaving,
In the letting go,
Let there be this
To hold onto at last:

The enduring of love,
The persisting of hope,
The remembering of joy,

The offering of gratitude,
The receiving of grace,
The blessing of peace.

We are comforted to know that Ann Marie has been welcomed home by our God and by her parents, brothers, family, IHM sisters and friends. May we be consoled by the memory of our times with Ann Marie and celebrate her life of love and service. In Ann Marie’s beloved Spanish we say, Bien hecho, Buena y fiel sierva! Well done, good and faithful servant.

I would now ask Ann Marie’s nephew James to place Ann Marie’s bible on her casket. This tradition serves as a reminder to all of us that Ann Marie staked her life on the word of God and God now calls her home to eternal life.

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