In Memory

Sister Kathleen Lannak, IHM

April 9, 1934 – July 30, 2015

Kathleen Lannak, IHM

Sister Kathleen Lannak, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. St. Bernard) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at Our Lady of Peace Residence, Scranton, PA.

She was born on April 9, 1934, in Scranton, PA, and given the name Helena Catherine. She was the daughter of the late Bernard and Genevieve (Jane) Healy Lannak. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1951 and made her temporary profession of vows on August 2, 1954 and her final profession of vows on August 3, 1957.

Sister Kathleen served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1954 to 1960; Cathedral Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1960 to 1961; and St. Raymond Elementary School in East Rockaway, NY, from 1961 to 1966.

Sister served as principal at the following schools: St. Henry Elementary School in Gresham, OR, from 1966 to 1971; Most Holy Rosary Elementary School in Syracuse, NY, from 1971 to 1979; and St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1980 to 2015.

She also served as director of public relations at St. Joseph Hospital in Carbondale, PA, from 1979 to 1980.

She received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science degree in education from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by four brothers, Paul, Bernard, Leonard, and Joseph, and two sisters, Ruth and Catherine.

She is survived by a brother, Patrick and his wife, Catherine of Wellsboro, PA, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Wednesday, August 5, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Tuesday, August 4, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Wednesday 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, Fall 2015 issue

Sister Kathleen Lannak, IHM—sister, teacher, principal, mentor, leader, companion, “Aunt Kay,” friend—so many different titles were applied to Sister Kathleen over her many years of ministry and love of God’s people. These were the words attributed to her by school children, parents, family members, and sisters in our larger IHM community in the last days of sister’s struggles, letting go, and finally in her peaceful journey back to our loving Father in heaven. So many of the families from Silver Spring, MD, where Sister had spent her last 35 years, came to offer their condolences and support to our IHM community as we remembered Sister Kathleen at the afternoon wake, and again the next morning at the funeral Mass. Our sisters will be always grateful for their love.

About 18 months ago, Sister Kathleen had accepted a diagnosis of cancer once again with her usual determination, courage, and resignation to “whatever the Lord has in store for me.” She spent many quiet times, as she put it, “discussing these things with the Lord, telling Him the desires of her heart to complete the work He had given her to do, and then she would gladly go home.” Her daily life was a witness to all of God’s faithfulness and strength, and to these daily conversations with the Lord, as she carefully went over to school, to principal meetings, to parent meetings, completed a multitude of paperwork for the archdiocese, and interacted with the staff and children daily. As her strength diminished, she would always go to school to start the day with prayer, take care of important issues, and then return to the convent to rest, always returning to school to pray at the end of the day and to ask: ”Was St. John the Evangelist a better place because you were here today?”

This favorite question, still asked today at St. John the Evangelist, tells a tale of the underlying qualities that enlivened and encouraged Sister Kay, as so many in Silver Spring and everywhere she was ever present, called her. She was an IHM sister through and through. Joyful, loving service was her life. Educating children and many adults, not only in academics but in the truths of our faith, was her passion and her example. She comforted the afflicted, as she was faithfully present to families in the area in times of sickness and mourning. Her office was a place people could come for encouragement, counsel, and peace when there was a need for support in time of confusion and strife. She laughed and played and prayed with energy and enthusiasm; she built up others by affirming their gifts and afflicted the comfortable, challenging them to stretch a little further all the time.

I remember Sister Kay as mentor, affirmer, but most of all, I am grateful to know that she saw me as a faithful friend. With other sisters from our local community at St. John’s in Silver Spring, as well as her brother and the members of her family, we truly miss her. We all believe that we were better people because she was here with us. We rejoice in her being with our God, and believe she is still with us today as she intercedes for all of us before our God.

by Sister Roberta Mary Harding, IHM

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