In Memory

Sister Jeanne Marie Kearney, IHM

June 5, 1938 – September 1, 2016

Sister Jeanne Marie Kearney, IHM, (formerly known as Sister Coletta) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Thursday, September 1, 2016, at the Regional Hospital of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

She was born on June 5, 1938, in Scranton, PA, and was the daughter of the late Eugene and Sara Callahan Kearney. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1956, made temporary profession of her vows on March 13, 1959, and final profession of vows her on March 13, 1962.

Sister Jeanne Marie served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, from 1959 to 1962; St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School in Archbald, PA, from 1962 to 1966; St. Anthony School in Portland, OR, from 1966 to 1968; and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Elementary School in Forest Hills, NY, from 1968 to 1970.

In 1970 Sister Jeanne Marie began her ministry in Lima, Peru, where she served for more than forty-five years. Sister was a teacher in Lima at Santisimo Nombre de Jesus Elementary School in Lima from 1970 to 1984. She was the director at San Francisco de Asis Social Services in Mateo Pumacahua and vice-principal of Adult Education at Santisimo Nombre de Jesus in Lima from 1984 to 1994. Sister served as the director of San Francisco de Asis Pre-School and Social Services in Mateo Pumacahua from 1994 to 2007. From 2007 to 2016, Sister Jeanne Marie continued as an advisor at San Francisco de Asis Pre-School.

Under the auspices of the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Providence of 31st Street, New York, Sister Jeanne Marie founded the San Francisco Parish Pre-School in the town of Mateo Pumacahua, a town near Lima, Peru. As director of this school she was responsible for the training of all its personnel. At the same time she was the coordinator of the school’s dining hall which provided breakfast and lunch to the 120 students. Sister Jeanne Marie was the director of this school in its formative years until the Peruvian government ordained that such a position be filled by a Peruvian citizen. During her tenure as director, Sister Jeanne Marie was responsible for the school’s obtaining formal official recognition. Although she was no longer officially the director, she was the heart and soul of the school. She also served as a counselor to the women of the parish community organizing many women’s groups.

Sister Jeanne Marie also served as Director of Candidates in Peru for the IHM Congregation from 1988 to 1990.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by a brother, Eugene, who died at birth, and a sister, Anne Deignan.

She is survived by a sister, Sally Conaboy, and her husband, Patrick, of Clarks Green, PA, nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Tuesday, September 6, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Monday, September 5, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Tuesday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

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 “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Spring 2017 issue

Reflection given by Sister Katie Clauss, IHM Congregation Vice-President

Sister Jeanne Marie Kearney, Funeral 9/6/16

At the beginning of the liturgy we were reminded that on the day of her baptism Jeanne Marie put on Christ. As she grew into that reality, she was Christ for others as she “clothed herself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”(Col 3:12) Those of us who knew and loved Jeanne Marie could easily describe how we experienced in her the Jesus whom we follow. Her selfless life as a missionary was lived in God for others, her simple and humble lifestyle, ready smile, easy humor, joy, and her gentleness attracted others to her, especially the children and those who were vulnerable.

Yesterday’s sharing afforded us the opportunity to hear from Jeanne Marie’s colleagues in Peru and friends here regarding their experience of her. We heard that as invested as she was in all that was Peru, she never lost interest in hometown or community news. She was an online reader of the Scranton Times Tribune. Continents and oceans did not render her out of touch with what was happening in the congregation. She took advantage of video streaming and consistently participated in presentations, large and small group meetings, wakes and funerals, and other prayer experiences.

One of Jeanne Marie’s Peruvian colleagues sent an email sharing her experience of what it was like to be with Jeanne, “She made me laugh until I was worn out, she inspired confidence and invited relationships. I was grateful to know her.” Sisters at the wake service described and shared examples of Jeanne Marie’s gratuitous hospitality and her abundant kindness. It was clear that she understood that what she possessed was meant to be in service of those who were in need of her time, her resources, her patience, or her goodness.

St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Virginia twinned with Jeanne’s parish, San Francisco de Asis in Mateo. Members of the parish who knew and grew to love Jeanne sent an email describing their experience of her. They were moved by her dedication and her strength, they marveled at Jeanne Marie’s courage and generous gift of life, and they felt blessed to know her.

Before the wake service Mary Martha and Joel Marie shared a story about the new pastor of San Francisco de Asis who was recently assigned to the parish before she left. This man grew up in Mateo and participated in the youth group that Joel Marie and Jeanne organized in the parish. He was quick to remind Jeanne that he was active in the yearly Christmas pageants that were held. Jeanne had conversations with him before she left about the earlier days and he let her know how she and Joel had influenced his life when he was young. He asked Jeanne Marie to stay on to minister with him. How wonderful that she was able to see the fruit of her ministry in Mateo come full circle in the life of this young man.

Over these last few days we heard many expressions of gratitude for Jeanne Marie’s gospel-based witness, her tireless outpouring of self in service of others, her ability to forego the status quo and embrace a life of poverty, chastity and obedience for the life of the world. Let’s take a moment to offer our gratitude to and for Jeanne Marie in the silence of our hearts. Christine Deignan, Jeanne Marie’s niece, will now place the Scripture on Jeanne Marie’s casket. It is open to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9, verse 48 where we hear these words: Then Jesus said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me. For it is the one who is the least among you all who is the greatest.”

Jeanne Marie, for fifty-eight years as an IHM Sister you welcomed God when you welcomed the children. It is the God whom you welcomed who now welcomes you home and reunites you with your parents, Eugene and Sarah, your sister Anne, and your brother, Eugene. May the profound joy of your reunion be felt in the hearts of all of us who have known and loved you and may this joy be a consolation and comfort for us in the days ahead.

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