In Memory

Sister Anna Eleanor Flaherty, IHM

March 19, 1895 – July 3, 1981

Sister Anna Eleanor Flaherty, IHM, (formerly Sister Mary Oswalda) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, died Friday, July 3, 1981 at the Marian Convent, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, after an extended illness.

She was born March 19, 1895 in Kingston, Pennsylvania, and was the daughter of the late John J. and Mary Agnes McCann Flaherty. Before entering the community, Anna Eleanor received her registered nurse certification. She entered the IHM Congregation on May 24, 1921, received the religious habit on August 2, 1921, and made profession of her vows on August 15, 1923.

In the early years of her religious life, Sister Anna Eleanor taught primary and intermediate grades at St. Basil School in Dushore, PA, and St. Mary of the Mount in Pittsburgh, PA.

Sister Anna Eleanor also served as registered pharmacist at St. Joseph’s Children and Maternity Hospital in Scranton, PA, from 1934 to 1973.

From 1973 until the time of her death, Sister Anna Eleanor served as a prayer minister at the Marian Convent.

She received a registered pharmacist (RPh) degree from Columbia University. During her years at St. Joseph’s, Sister Anna Eleanor held membership in the American Pharmaceutical Association, the Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Associa­tion, and the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

She is preceded in death by three brothers, Joseph, Richard and Thomas,and a sister, Josephine Murphy.

She is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Eleanor Quinn of Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Mrs. Peg McHale of Rochester, NY, and several nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be Monday with Mass of Christian Burial in the Marian Convent chapel at 11:00 a.m. Interment will follow at St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Moscow, Pennsylvania. Friends may call at the Marian Convent Sunday afternoon or evening.

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.

Reprinted from the IHM Newsletter, March 2020:

Sister Oswalda–Wonder Woman by Jan Corbett

Sister Oswalda, named Anna Eleanor Flaherty, was a native of Larksville, PA, and a registered nurse before entering the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After her final vows she attended Columbia University in New York City. Upon completion of the pharmacy course, she was assigned to St. Joseph’s Children’s and Maternity Hospital, Scranton, PA, in 1934.

Sister was described as an outspoken, energetic woman who was an economist and a lover of humanity. Her only concern was to care for those in need and at the same time save money for St. Joseph’s. In her 39 years as the pharmacist, she transformed her pharmacy into, for that period in history, a pharmaceutical dream. Sister Oswalda was a wizard at making use of raw materials—she even made vanilla extract for the kitchen and
could quote exactly how much money she saved. Her ministry to the young women at the hospital included manufacturing cosmetics in her lab.

Sister Oswalda may have been the first person who knew about universal medical precautions used in healthcare today such as protecting the medical professional and the patient from contaminants such as bodily fluids, the wearing of gloves, and the washing of hands. She had a respect for germs
and bacteria. She wore white gloves, washed her own dishes, and set her own place at the table. The lab was off limits and one had to knock before entering. She was a “woman of science” before her time.

Sister received many accolades and honors including those she received three times from the American Pharmaceutical Association for her display
presentations. Sister Oswalda wrote an excellent, highly intelligent review of the reference book, Pharmaceutical Botany, appearing in the professional Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists which concluded with a spiritual reflection: “God, the Divine Author of Nature, must surely bestow His invisible seal of approbation upon this magnificent work Pharmaceutical Botany which reflects so much honor and glory on His creative handiwork.”


Mortar and pestle gift “To Sr. Oswalda by Lackawanna County Pharmacy Association (LCPA) for her service to Pharmacy”

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