In Memory

Sister M. Francis Gabriel Lenihan, IHM

March 1, 1911 – October 26, 2016

Sister M. Francis Gabriel Lenihan, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on March 1, 1911, in Scranton, PA and given the name Mary Julia. She was the daughter of the late Daniel D. and Hannah Graney Lenihan. She entered the IHM Congregation on August 14, 1926, and made her temporary profession of vows on January 2, 1929, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1932.

Sister Francis Gabriel served as a teacher at: St. Paul Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1929 to 1939; St. Rosalia Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1939 to 1949; Mother of Mercy Elementary School in Washington, NC, from 1949 to 1958; St. Alphonsus Elementary School in New York, NY, from 1958 to 1962; Holy Trinity Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, NY, from 1962 to 1964; St. Peter Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1964 to 1966; All Saints Elementary School in Masontown, PA, from 1966 to 1967; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1967 to 1983; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Bellefonte, PA, in 1983; and Our Lady of Grace Montessori School in Manhasset, NY, from 1984 to 1996.

From 1997 until the time of her death, Sister Francis Gabriel served as a prayer minister at the IHM Center, Scranton, PA; Marian Convent, Scranton, PA; and Our Lady of Peace Residence, Scranton, PA.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Marywood College, Scranton, PA.

She was preceded in death by three brothers, John J., William G., and Daniel D., and two sisters, Rose Duffy and Sister M. Honor, IHM.

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

The funeral will be Thursday, November 3, 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, November 2, 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 2017 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister M. Francis Gabriel Lenihan, Funeral 11/3/16

May you live long, Die happy,
And rate a mansion in heaven.
Irish Blessing

In the words of this Irish blessing, Sister Francis Gabriel did indeed live long, die happy, as she lived, and for sure rated not just one, but at least one hundred and five mansions in heaven. I’m told there were so many wonderful stories shared yesterday about this holy saint who lived among us. Actually, anyone who knew Francis for more than five minutes came away from that encounter with a story, a memory, because she touched people with her genuineness, her humility, her deep faith and love of God, and her kindness.

Sister Katie told me a story about Francis from back in January, 2006, when the sisters who lived in our Marian Convent were moved to their new home here at Our Lady of Peace. Though the sisters had been prepared for the move, and most had been able to pick out their new rooms, it was still a big change for the sisters, as you can imagine. That night as the sisters were trying to settle into their new home and get used to new surroundings, one of the sisters who was not quite sure about the move put some of her clothes over her arm and headed down to Francis Gabriel’s room. She asked Francis to pack up some of her clothes so they could go back home to the Marian Convent together right then, because…. “if you and I go, everyone else will follow us.” Luckily, Francis prevailed on the sister to go back to her room and give it a little more time, thus ending the “midnight revolt” of our elderly sisters. But the story does depict the high regard in which Francis was held by the other sisters: if she went, the others would follow her.

I know that she was 105, but I believe Francis died in her prime, for she was happy, full of gratitude for all her blessings, which she continued to count right up to the day she died, and had a spirit that enlivened everyone around her. Her warm smile opened our hearts to the beauty and joy of a life lived totally for others and her God. As I reflected on Francis’ life, I couldn’t help but think, “What was her secret?” I believe the answer is simple: she was a person of faith. That faith allowed her to experience life with deep trust and understanding and with humor. She understood others for who they were and still accepted and loved them no matter what – and her life teaches us to do the same. For most of her life, Francis taught in elementary schools, and her lessons then and throughout her life were profound. God’s love reaches beyond anything we can ever imagine and never ends. School children and adults saw the effects of that truth in Francis Gabriel’s life every day, and knew her joy and kindness flowed from that deep relationship with God. We saw it and knew we were blessed by someone as close to God as most of us will ever know until our own deaths.

Francis lived until she died, and our faith tells us that she continues to live. Her gratitude for the blessings of family, her IHM Congregation, her students, and her friends was never ending, and spilled over into an appreciation and zest for all life. We celebrate her gift of life benefitting thousands of students, sisters, and friends. We celebrate her generosity and humility in sharing all that beauty and inspiration. We are grateful for her kindness in so many ways, for her companionship, her humor and lively wit, her love for all. We will always have a smile when we think of Francis, for we were truly the lucky ones for having known her.

We pray today for Francis’ nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, her IHM sisters, especially those who shared life with her here at Our Lady of Peace, her students and friends, and the staff and administrators here at OLP. We ask the God of all consolation to comfort them and all of us at this time of loss.

Even in our sadness that Francis will no longer be with us here on earth, we rejoice that she is now in the presence of God and all the angels and saints, including her parents, Hannah and Daniel, her sisters, Rose and Sister Honor, her brothers, John, William, and Daniel, and her Band members and friends. I’m not sure any of them, including God, has had much chance to rest from all the dancing and joyous gatherings since Francis joined them last Wednesday, but I think we can all imagine and celebrate the great joy in heaven at this reunion.

Francis’ nephew, Francis, will now place the scriptures on her casket, for indeed she heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it and received life to the full. The Word now joyfully beckons her home.

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