In Memory

Sister M. Francine Connolly, IHM

May 19, 1923 – February 25, 2018

Francine Connolly, IHM

Sister M. Francine Connolly, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, February 25, 2018 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on May 19, 1923 in New York, NY, and given the name Anne Marie. She was the daughter of the late Francis A. and Elizabeth V. Murphy Connolly. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1941, made temporary profession of her vows on May 8, 1944, and final profession of her vows on August 2, 1947.

Sister Francine served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Matthew Elementary School in Stroudsburg, PA, from 1944 to 1958; St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School in Archbald, PA, from 1958 to 1961; St. Patrick Elementary School in Oneida, NY, from 1961 to 1963; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Elementary School in Forest Hills, NY, from 1969 to 1970; St. Raymond Elementary School in East Rockaway, NY, from 1975 to 1988; St. Mary Elementary School in Manhasset, NY, from 1989 to 2001.

Sister served as principal at the following schools: St. Bernard Elementary School in Hastings, PA, from 1963 to 1969; St. Mary Elementary School in Avoca, PA, from 1970 to 1975; and St. Ann Elementary School in Nyack, NY, from 1988 to 1989.

Sister Francine served as a prayer minister at St. Mary Convent in Manhasset, NY, from 2001 to 2008, and then from 2008 until the time of her death at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/social studies, and a Master of Science degree in religious education, both from Marywood College. She also received a Master of Education degree from Duquesne University.

She was preceded in death by three brothers, infant Edward, infant Francis, and Gerard, and two sisters, Marguerite (Margaret Mary) Gillis and Gloria Smith.

She is survived by a sister, Dolores Carlo of Wantagh, NY, nieces and nephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Thursday, March 1 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 Wednesday, February 28, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Thursday 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 2018 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister M. Francine Connolly, funeral March 1, 2018

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. (Rumi)

More than seventy years ago, Anne Marie Connolly, drawn by the “strange pull,” the mystery, of God’s call to religious life, left her family in New York and travelled to Scranton and the IHM Congregation. That journey foreshadowed her life-long quest to be drawn deeply into God’s love so that she might bring that love to others. Francine, as she came to be known, followed her heart, and by all accounts of those who knew her, she indeed was not led astray by that commitment. Her faith and trust in God led her beyond her own dreams into God’s dream and ultimately, last Sunday, back into God’s loving arms.

So we celebrate today the fidelity and goodness of Francine. We remember with joy her generous life. Blessed with a spirit of selflessness and an innate sense of the goodness in others, she lived and ministered among us as an IHM sister for seventy-four years. We remember her welcoming sense of hospitality, and the many small acts of kindness done for each of us and so many others. We recall her joyful love for her family and her congregation, her gentle sense of humor, her keen interest in those around her, and the respect with which she reverenced each person she met along the way.

Francine ministered as a teacher in several schools in Pennsylvania and New York where she immersed herself in the never dull, often exasperating, life of her junior high students. She patiently listened and supported, coaxed and challenged, and taught them about God’s all-encompassing love by her example every day. They were all her “favorite student” and she, as we heard yesterday from a former student, became their favorite because she was not only “a great teacher, but also a wonderful person.” Her twelve years as principal were special to her teachers, students, and families not only because of her administrative gifts, but also her understanding and gentle caring for each member of her school community. Francine later served as a prayer minister at her beloved St. Mary’s in Manhasset and then here at Our Lady of Peace. Through a caring and responsive heart, she welcomed us with her friendship and did not falter as our companion on her journey to her God. She challenged us, as she did her students, to keep searching for our own truer selves and to know the gift we are to others in this world. She invited us along on her journey into God’s heart and in so doing shared the depth of her own heart.

We knew in these past weeks that Francine was ready to get on with her journey home to God. In fact, she said several times that she was praying for that and asked others to pray too. Her gentle humor was still apparent when she told Frannie Rose that she was praying to her parents to intercede with God on her behalf because it was taking God so long and she quipped, “Is God deaf?” Though we cannot help but be sad at her going from us, we know with all the certainty of our faith that she really is, finally, home with her God.

Francine’s goodness and strong faith were rooted in her family. Our prayers today bless the memory of her parents, Elizabeth and Francis, her sisters, Margaret and Gloria, and her brothers, Edward, Francis, and Gerard, whose love for her on earth was only a glimpse of the fullness of love she now experiences with them in the presence of God.

We pray today especially for her sister, Gloria, her nieces and nephews, and great nieces and great nephews, and all in her extended family. Our prayers are also with her dear IHM friends, especially those at St. Mary’s in Manhasset and all who shared life and ministry with her, the administrators, staff, and sisters here at Our Lady of Peace, especially those in Household 1C, and all who knew and loved her.

We will miss Francine’s presence – her gracious smile, her sense of humor, her kindness, and her authenticity. During yesterday’s wake service, Connie shared one of Francine’s famous phrases, which she used mostly in reference to cooking: “Use it up; wear out; make it do.” I googled that phrase and discovered that it was commonly used during the depression and it has an additional piece to it: “Use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without.” Francine was utterly selfless in using up all of her many gifts and graces in loving service to her God and God’s people; she kept nothing back for herself. After almost ninety-five years of blessing us with her untiring love and life, her body did finally wear out last Sunday, but not her spirit, her soul. Drawn by that “strange pull” from God those many years ago, Francine found her calling and more than made it do through her everlasting impact on her many family members and countless children, teachers, parents, and her IHM family. And today we are all comforted by the certainty that she is definitely not “doing without” as she is in the eternal joy and loving embrace of God’s love. As the writer/poet John O”Donohue wrote: “May there be a beautiful welcome for you in the home you are going to, because you’re not going to somewhere strange, but you are going back to the home that you never really left.” (John O’Donohue, The Horizon Is In the Well).

I now ask Dolores and Ellen to place the scriptures on Francine’s casket, for she heard the Word of God; indeed, she staked her life upon it, and received life to the full … the Word now beckons Francine home.

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