In Memory

Sister M. Espiritu Dempsey, IHM

November 16, 1922 – March 12, 2006

Espiritu Dempsey, IHM

Sister M. Espiritu Dempsey, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, March 12, 2006 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

She was born on November 16, 1922 in New York, NY, and given the name Norma Elizabeth. She was the daughter of the late Stephen and Elizabeth Cassidy Dempsey. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1940, made temporary profession of her vows on May 10, 1943, and final profession of her vows on August 1, 1946.

Sister Espiritu served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Paul Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1943 to 1950; St. John the Evangelist High School in Pittston, PA, from 1953 to 1954 and 1955 to 1963; South Scratnon Catholic High School in Scranton, PA, from 1954 to 1955; Sacred Heart Elementary School in Mount Holly, NJ; and St. Dominic School in Oyster Bay, NY.

Sister Espiritu then began her tenure at Marywood College, in Scranton, PA, which spanned from 1963 to 1986. Sister served as a faculty member from 1963 to 1969; academic dean from 1969 to 1978; and vice-president for academic affairs from 1978 to 1986. She also served as the Director of Novices for the IHM Congregation, in Scranton, PA, from 1986 to 1987.

At Heritage College in Toppenish, WA, Sister Espiritu served as academic dean from 1988 to 2000; vice-president for academic affairs from 1989 to 1996; and director of the Institute for Life-long Learning from 1996 to 2000.

From 2000 to the time of her death, Sister Espiritu served as an archives research assistant for the IHM Congregation, and prayer minister at the IHM Center and Our Lady of Peace Residenc, all in Scranton, PA.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Marywood College, a Master of Arts degree in French from Assumption College, and a doctoral degree in linguistics from Georgetown University.

She was preceded in death by a sister, Barbara Baccino.

She is survived by a brother, Stephen Ross, Jr. of Milton, DE, several nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews.

The funeral will be Wednesday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton followed by interment at St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Moscow. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Tuesday, March 14, between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

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 2006 issue:

Sr. Espiritu died on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, March 12. In his homily at her funeral liturgy, Monsignor Thomas Banick referred to the journeys of Sr. Espiritu from Mount Moriah to Tabor during her eighty-three year lifetime. He called Moriah “Abraham’s mountain of obedient trust of God.” We reflect now on how Sister Espiritu’s life as a religious was spent on this mountain, obediently and joyfully accepting her assignments as an IHM — and moving graciously through her life, heeding the message given on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Then, in the last years of her life, she bore courageously the terminal illness which gradually brought her to Mount Tabor. There on Tabor she was transfigured into life eternal.

Sr. Espiritu was a prayerful, happy person. She was proud of her hundred percent Irish heritage, as well as of being a native New Yorker. One cannot think of her without thinking of life and love, of smiles, energy and spirit. She was an avid fan of Notre Dame football, followed golf with Tiger Woods, and enjoyed community celebrations, preferring a glass of good brandy or Bailey’s Irish Creme for a toast.

What can we learn from Sr. Espiritu’s life? We can learn how to love God and others more deeply. She loved everyone, and told them so. Her love gave birth to humility, which in turn found expression in gratitude. She lived constantly in gratitude. Even the slightest kindness to her always merited a big “thank you” smile.

Honored for her many accomplishments in the academic world over a lifetime of service, she now receives the greatest award of all – freedom from pain and suffering; freedom to love her God eternally. As we have loved her in life, we will continue to love her throughout eternal life.

by Sister M. Michel Keenan, IHM

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