In Memory

Sister M. Xavier Byrne, IHM

August 13, 1844 – June 9, 1933

Sister M. Xavier Byrne, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, June 9, 1933 in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania.

She was born on August 13, 1844 in Montrose, Pennsylvania, and given the name Catherine. She was the daughter of the late Honorable Colonel Peter J. and Mary Dunlap Byrne. Catherine had the distinction of receiving her First Holy Communion from Bishop John Neumann. She entered the IHM Congregation on February 19, 1861, received the religious habit on August 22, 1861, and made profession of her vows on May 26, 1863.

She was stationed in Manayunk, Frankford, PA, (near Philadelphia), and then Susquehanna, PA, in 1867. Sister Xavier was stationed in Susquehanna in 1871. At the time of the establishment of the Scranton Diocese and the splitting of the IHM Congregation in Pennsylvania, she chose to remain with Scranton. She held the office of local superior for many years. She was also stationed in Williamsport, PA. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee on May 24, 1913, in the Marywood Seminary Chapel. Sister Xavier, the oldest member of the Scranton Congregation at the time, died at Elmhurst in the 72nd year of her religious life at age 89.

She was preceded in death by a sister, Helen.

Interment is at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, Pennsylvania.

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.

Sister Xavier is the daughter of the late Colonel Peter Byrne, at one time a prominent member of the Luzerne County Bar. She had the signal (sic) honor of receiving her first Holy Communion from the now Venerable Bishop Neumann of Philadelphia and of attending the Academy of the Holy Cross at old Saint Joseph’s — the cradle of the daughters of the Immaculate Heart — before the Sisters came to Pennsylvania. At the age of fifteen she applied for admission to the Sisterhood, but was not received, on account of her youth, for a year. As the winters at Saint Joseph’s were very severe the younger postulants were sent to Reading to make their novitiate. Sister Xavier received the holy habit there from the hands of Bishop Wood, who also received her vows on the twenty-sixth of May, 1863. When Sister began her novitiate the community was confined to the great diocese of Philadelphia. Sister Xavier has watched the marvellous and ever-broadening sphere of the usefulness of her community until now it embraces the Dioceses of Altoona, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Boise, Seattle, Spokane, Syracuse, Providence, R. I., and the Archdioceses of Oregon and New York, administered from the Scranton mother house. She is a precious link between the old and the new, and enjoys the united hope of the community that she will be spared long to perpetuate in her own person the spirit of the first foundation.”

Excerpted from The Sisters of the I.H.M.: The Story of The Founding of The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Their Work In The Scranton Diocese by Sister M. Immaculata Gillespie, IHM, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, NY, 1921, pp. 292, 293

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