In Memory

Sister M. St. Monica Costello, IHM

February 11, 1938 – November 5, 2013

St Monica Costello, IHM

Sister M. St. Monica Costello, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on February 11, 1938, in Brooklyn, NY, and given the name Margaret. She was the daughter of the late Michael and Mary Connelly Costello. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1956, and made her temporary profession of vows on March 12, 1959, and her final profession of vows on March 12, 1964.

Sister St. Monica was a teacher in the following schools: St. Mary of the Mount Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1959 to 1963; St. Basil Elementary School in Dushore, PA, from 1963 to 1966; Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1966 to 1969; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1969 to 1970; St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, from 1971 to 1975; St. Agnes Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1975 to 1977.

Sister served as principal at the following schools: St. Charles Elementary School in Sugar Notch, PA, from 1970 to 1971; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School in Rocky Mount, NC, from 1977 to 1983; Holy Rosary Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1983 to 1985; Our Lady of the Lake Elementary School in Verona, NJ, from 1985 to 1988; and St. Mary’s Elementary School in Manhasset, NY, from 1988 to 1997.

Sister St. Monica also served as administrative director at Holy Cross High School in Delran, NJ, from 1997 to 2000; and was the director of the IHM Educational Enrichment Institute at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA, from 2000 until the time of her death.

She received a bachelor of science degree in education and a master of science degree in religious education both from Marywood University.

She is preceded in death by a brother, William.

She is survived by a brother, Reverend Andrew, CSsR, of Annapolis, MD; and a sister, Mary Doody of Doylestown, PA; nieces and a nephew; grandnieces and grandnephews; and a dear friend, Sandy.

The funeral will be Monday, November 11, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at IHM Center on Sunday, November 10, 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 Monday 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 2014 issue

We give Monica back to You, O Lord, who first gave her to us, and as You did not lose her in the giving, so we do not lose her in the return.

When I think about Sister St. Monica Costello, the first thing that pops into my head is the song, “Maria” from The Sound of Music, and in particular the phrase, “. . . how do you catch a moonbeam in your hand?” Monica, or Peggy as her family lovingly called her, was a person who always seemed to have twenty or more “projects” (her favorite word) going at the same time, and all of them focused on doing something for others. She was a person who lived and breathed “loving service” her entire life. She never tired of reaching out to others – except at night, when she would settle in her big easy chair, ready to watch the evening news, and immediately fall fast asleep (though she claimed it was only a little “snoozette”)!

Monica was born in Brooklyn, NY, and remained proud of that fact her entire life. Her parents, Michael and Mary, taught Monica, her sister, Mary, and her two brothers, Andy and Billy, the values of a strong faith grounded in prayer, family, and service to others. These principles were life-long hallmarks of Monica’s life. She deeply loved her family and reveled in telling about the latest adventures of her nieces, nephew, grandnieces and grandnephews. She looked forward to the special holiday and summer vacation times when she would share her wit and wisdom with family and close friends. There was no chance of being bored when in the company of Monica and her family!

Monica loved life to its fullest, always ready for a party (especially one she planned!), a Thanksgiving dinner celebration, a card game, or her famous St. Patrick’s Day Irish soda bread-making marathon! She enjoyed a good laugh, even on herself, and valued greatly her many friends. Above all, Monica’s priorities always were her prayer relationship with her God and her IHM vocation. It was her unflinching faith in God’s great love for her, I know, that gave her strength even as her illness relentlessly progressed. She never complained, not once, though the rest of us surely did.

Of all the words I might use to describe Monica, the one I think that she would be most proud of is “teacher.” From her early years in the classroom to the twenty plus years as a principal to her last thirteen years as director of the IHM Educational Enrichment Institute (EEI) at the IHM Center, Monica was the consummate teacher—she taught by example, not just words. She genuinely loved, respected, and enjoyed each student, child or adult, for the person he or she was. There were no limits on her time or efforts to provide each one with the individual educational help needed. Monica always saw the potential in her students, and focused on helping them to recognize and develop it in themselves. She relished taking on the most difficult cases, and was happier than any Olympic gold medal winner when one of these students showed improvement. I think Monica was such a wonderful teacher and mentor because she cared and showed it. I think all of us are better persons because of the countless lessons Monica taught us every day.

So now we truly do call her “St.” Monica, as she enjoys God’s eternal loving embrace and we rejoice in thanksgiving for the many ways she shared her great zest for life with us.

by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM

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