In Memory

Sister Maria Rose Kelly, IHM

October 17, 1942 – April 9, 2023

Sister Maria Rose Kelly, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, April 9, 2023, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on October 17, 1942, in Carbondale, PA, and given the name Judith Anne. She was the daughter of the late Frank and Rosemary Roemer Kelly. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1960, made her temporary profession of vows on June 26, 1963, and her final profession of vows on June 26, 1968. Sister Maria Rose received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Arts degree in counseling, both from Marywood College, and a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Manhattan College.

Sister Maria Rose served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1965 to 1967; Maria Regina High School in Uniondale, NY, from 1967 to 1973; West Catholic High School in Scranton, PA, from 1973 to 1974; and Bishop Klonowski High School in Scranton, PA, from 1974 to 1978.

Sister also served as director of vocations for the IHM Congregation from 1978 to 1983; spiritual director and core group member at Our Lady of the Lake Spiritual Renewal Center in Verona, NJ, from 1983 to 1988; faculty member at Marywood College/University in Scranton, PA, from 1988 to 2020; Telespond volunteer at Our Lady of Peace Residence from 2021 to 2022; and support services at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA, until 2023.

Sister Maria Rose was faithfully committed to work of the Diocese of Scranton Enthronement of the Sacred Heart Guild where she served as a member and board member from 2013 until the time of her death.

She is preceded in death by a brother, Reverend Paul Kelly, SCJ.

She is survived by a brother, Frank of Mineola, NY. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Friday, April 14 at 10:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Thursday, April 13 between 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Friday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Prayer of Remembrance 

Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Eileen Toomey

Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!

Judith Anne Kelly-Judy-Sr. Maria Rose-Rose

By whichever name, was she not dear to our hearts?!

Whether you were gathered here together yesterday or have been thinking about and talking about Rose elsewhere, we can be assured that there have been many eulogies already uttered for Rose. I am honored and touched to be able to speak about her here today.

A small plaque I recently saw made me think of Rose in many ways. She was the daughter every parent would treasure. The sister that every little brother would look up to. The teacher that enriches and encourages every student. The friend that anyone would value. Regarding “friend,” I have been thinking that in a room filled with folks that knew Rose well, if you asked, “Do you think Rose was your best friend?” hands would shoot up all around. Not that we would think we were her best friend, but we knew she was ours. She was there for us. She cared for us. She welcomed and celebrated us.

Rose and I came into one another’s lives in 1960 when we were 17 and became IHM postulants. Though we were band mates, shared classes and chores, we did not really get to know one another until 1969 when my assignment was changed to Maria Regina High School on LI. I was not so happy about this change. I really thought it was a terrible mistake. I had loved my former mission in Masontown PA and was so sad to leave it. But Rose was very happy at Maria Regina and she did everything she could to comfort me and make me welcome. Only now, only NOW do I realize what a true blessing that change was. It brought me close to Rose, Sr. Josine and many other beautiful women as well as to the Kelly family.

Even after I left the community, Rose and I stayed close and continued to share in one another’s lives. Newton Lake was a delight always. I got to know her parents, her brothers, Frank and Paul and her cousin, Joe and his wife, Elaine.

Rose was part of John’s and my wedding; she is God mother to our daughter, Anne, and has played the part of silly auntie to her and to our son, Michael. She read at Mike and Abby’s wedding and has rejoiced in our little granddaughters. And, thankfully, over all these years, Rose has kept me connected to the IHMs.

Unsurprisingly, Rose took great, unabashed delight in children. Each and every child born to family or friends was “THE most beautiful child!” That never took away from the one before but simply reflected how Rose saw them all…each one perfect. I think that children frequently surprised Rose. How quickly they grew and changed, how they understood and used language, how they could engage in a game, how they could get a joke and give a joke. Children for Rose were always a gift that kept giving. 11Send me pictures/’ she would say…”More, more, more!”

Have you ever taken a walk with Rose? Well, if you have you have, you have never gotten quickly from one place to another. Not because physically she wasn’t up to it…that did come later. But because if someone was passing on the street, Rose would not only give a wave and say hello, but she would stop and chat usually finding something to compliment about the person or what the person was doing. This trait did not come from nowhere. Rose was the daughter of Kitty Kelly, the woman who one day after Mass tapped the shoulder of the man in front of her and said, “Excuse me. But I have to tell you. You have beautiful ears!” Reasons to compliment were always found by mother and daughter.

And that brings me to another observation about Rose. No matter what, “we” (the collective we) were all superlatives. We were the best hosts, the finest cooks, the most clever artists, the funniest companion, the most thoughtful …whatever. Now this is all very nice. But what did it mean to try to live up to that?! She was very sneaky in forcing us to be our best selves. And since we never wanted her to see us any differently, it was hard work for us to keep trying.

Rose knew the art of contentment. She would say how much she loved her room, her view, her chair, aka her “precious.” She valued the ease of her retirement, her easy access to liturgy, her daily life with Sr. Franny and those in her small community of Sacred Heart and with her larger community at this center and beyond. In these later years as many of you know, Rose began to write poetry.

Very simple words usually tied into a reflection on nature. She would send a poem along with a card or a note. Nothing flashy. Just something to share in the moment. It was always something to make you pause.

My husband, John, and Rose used to kid about her physical “activity.” Or lack thereof. He would say that we would only charge her half the usual rate for staying with us since she slept so much of the time. John and Rose were great talkers together and she was a great audience for his stories and his humor.

Rose’s true activity was in listening. She paid attention and gave attention. She remembered about people and what was important to them. She was the Mary who “took the better part.” Our son, Mike, whose communications with her were mostly on the phone says he never had an awkward or forced conversation with her. As he said here yesterday, her voice was unique and uniquely soothing. He feels she was an expert at knowing how long a conversation should go. She always ended by saying how much she loved him, his wife, Abby, and his girls.

I have never doubted that Rose’s life was centered on God and the goodness of God. She was a true lover of God and she did her best always to make her life a reflection of God’s love for all. Last Valentine’s Day, Rose sent a card to our daughter. Anne shared that card with her family and I would like to share a bit of it with you to let Rose now have the last word.

This is what she sent: an excerpt from The Tender Lord by Will Kent Krueger

“Do you believe in God?” I could see him rolling his eyes around in his head. “I don’t know if I believe in the God in the bible” he sighed. “But I know you and Albert and Emmy and Sister Eve. And I think about Herman Volz and Emmy’s mother. I know love. So, if it’s true like Sister Eve (Sister Rose) says that God is love, then I guess I believe.”



It isn’t that we haven’t faced changes before –
Change that has TOPPLED us…
Change has TOPPLED the world.

worse than the World Wars
worse than a burning Motherhouse
worse than crafty politicians
worse than AIDS
worse than Hiroshima
worse than the California fires
worse than the Suanese drought
worse than 9/11
worse than loved ones dead

How can we sing a song to the Lord in a foreign land?
Life, not asking, but demanding, an new song.
–without the words, without the music
No familiar melody.
Life pushes us forwards…like it or not

When you can…
Dig into your stash of hope,
Garnered from other times.

Dig into your stash of trust, from other times.

You’re more resilient than you think.
“I am with you always…always…always.
Trust Me. You’ll learn the song.”


Sr. Maria Rose Kelly, IHM

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