In Memory

Sister Jean Toolan, IHM

December 13, 1922 – December 29, 2023

Sister Jean Toolan, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Dermot) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, December 29, 2023, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on December 13, 1922, in Carbondale, PA. She was the daughter of the late William Leo and Rosalia Margaret Vaughey Toolan. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1940, and made her temporary profession of vows on May 10, 1943, and her final profession of vows on May 10, 1946. Sister Jean received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Marywood College, and a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Notre Dame.

Sister Jean served as a teacher in the following schools: Cathedral Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1943 to 1950; St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1950 to 1957; Kingston Central Catholic High School in Kingston, PA, from 1957 to 1966; and St. Mary High School in Manhasset, NY, from 1978 to 1980.

Sister served as vice-principal at Maria Regina Diocesan High School in Uniondale, NY, from 1966 to 1978.

Sister Jean also served as assistant superintendent of secondary schools at the Catholic Schools Office for the Diocese of Scranton from 1980 to 1993; administrator of the IHM Center in Scranton, PA, from 1993 to 2000; and as receptionist at the Adult Day Program at St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton, PA, from 2000 to 2012.

From 2012 until the time of her death, Sister Jean was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was preceded in death by two brothers, Walter William and Charles W., a sister, Lois T. Baker, and two cousins, Romayne Gilmartin and Clare Conmy.

Sister Jean is survived by beloved nieces and nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Monday, January 8 at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 1510 University Avenue in Dunmore, PA. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Monday, January 8, between 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. A prayer service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow Mass on Monday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Prayer of Remembrance and Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Sister Therese O’Rourke, IHM

Your precious life was a journey, Jean, and we feel so blessed to have shared it. How we loved you, dear friend.

To share life with Jean was to live the gospel in what can only be called an immersion experience, no skimming. Here is the complex and rich truth: Vatican II took on flesh in Jean’s life years and years before Vatican II ever happened. It was rooted in her personal relationship with Jesus that grew deeper with each experience, each ministry, every joy and every struggle. She knew God’s unconditional love and knew that it was the very essence of life and intended for every human person.

From the beginning until her final hours, Jean’s life reflected a generosity that amazed others: her siblings, extended family, coworkers, students, the staff here at OLP and her IHM sisters. There was never a dramatic display of generosity just a quiet, gentle gift of presence and whatever else you may need at any given moment.

We will never know the countless number of people who were shaped by Jean’s capacity to love them and to see their positive potential especially at moments when others, for one reason or another, would be judging them harshly.

Often, she would soften a negative verbal blow intended to over simplify a choice or a mis-step made by another with these words: “I wonder what walking in her shoes could teach us?” She would draw a new circle of calm and kindness and change the direction of the discussion. Such was the legacy of love that she left behind every place she went.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The Spirit of Jesus that seized her early in life and was the source of her incredible capacity to love was also what fueled her strength and made her fearless when confronting injustice. Never caustic or unkind she was always willing to stand tall, and alone if necessary, and speak the truth as she saw it. That truth was always through the lens of the Gospel.

Jean also had a quick sense of humor and many favorite things: good candy, homegrown tomatoes at the peak of their season, a significant conversation that would light up her day and great books. She loved to read.

At the heart of her joy during her last years were her daily calls from Deb and her Sunday visits from Jeff.

Those of us who knew Jean well recognized her brilliance. While getting a Master’s Degree at Notre Dame, the congregation asked her if she would pursue a PhD. She declined. She felt called to come home and tend to those she loved and those who needed her. That group would include her family, her students and her IHM family. It would include her ever expanding legacy of love.

Since the moment Jean died I have been praying to her. I recommend that you do the same.

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