In Memory

Sister Maria Voorneveld, IHM

January 29, 1923 – March 27, 2018

Maria Voorneveld, IHM

Sister Maria Voorneveld, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Theodore) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on January 29, 1923 in Syosset, NY, and given the name Marie Louise. She was the daughter of the late Theodore and Stella Coles Voorneveld. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1945 and made her temporary profession of vows on May 8, 1948 and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1951.

Sister Maria served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Bernardine Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1948 to 1955; St. Joseph Elementary School in New Bern, NC, from 1955 to 1959; St. Alphonsus Elementary School in New York, NY, from 1959 to 1964; Academia Cristo Rey Ponce in Puerto Rico, from 1964 to 1970; St. Stephen Elementary School in New York, NY, from 1970 to 1974; St. Paul Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1974 to 1977; Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School in Forest Hills, NY, from 1977 to 1981; St. Ambrose Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT, from 1984 to 1985; and Santisimo Nombre de Jesus High School in Lima, Peru, from 1985 to 1989. She was the librarian at St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1989 to 1994.

She served as principal at St. Mary Elementary School in Goldsboro, NC, from 1981 to 1984.

Sister Maria also served as the director of Immaculate Heart of Mary tutoring program at St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, from 1994 to 1995; and on the support staff at Mother Seton Academy in Baltimore, MD, from 1995 to 2006.

From 2006 until the time of her death, Sister Maria was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a Master of Arts degree in elementary education from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by three brothers, Albert, Cornelius, and Charles H.; and a sister, Doris Farmer.

She is survived by nieces and nephews; and by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Thursday, April 5, 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, April 4, 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, Fall 2018 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Maria Voorneveld, Funeral April 5, 2018

Beloved – Curious – Fulcrum – Basilic – Enjoyer – Teacher: You may think these words are good descriptors of Maria, but in fact, as any good Scrabble player would know, they are key seven-letter words that are proven winners in the game; they can lead to as many as 50 points!. Maria was an avid player, and her almost daily game with Marionette is legendary here. I am told that she has already grabbed up all the seven-letter words in her games in heaven.

We give Maria 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.

As we gather this morning as one family to celebrate Maria’s life, I recall the beautiful sharing at yesterday’s wake service and understand again the truth of these words. How appropriate that we celebrate Maria’s resurrection story during this beautiful Easter season, our ultimate victory over death through Jesus Christ. In our sharing, in our memories and in our hearts, Maria lives on, that is true, but most especially, she lives on in the way we live out in our lives each day the lessons and values she taught us by her example.

Maria was from Long Island, NY and remained proud of that fact her entire life. She learned early on the value of a strong faith grounded in prayer, family, and service to others. These principles were life-long hallmarks of Maria’s life. As we heard yesterday, she loved her family deeply and eagerly looked forward to the special vacation times when she would share her humor and wisdom with them. I’m still enjoying the story of her going camping with the boys when they were young. I think she saw life as an adventure to be enjoyed, not just endured, a lesson for all of us.

That same spirit marked her life as an IHM. Maria was at heart a missionary. Her faith rested on a great trust in God and she yearned to share that faith and love with others. For forty-seven years, she ministered as teacher and principal in schools in six different states, and in Puerto Rico and Peru. She was a gifted educator who loved teaching children wherever she was, but she had a knack and a special patience for the most vulnerable children and truly felt blessed to help them. Her stories of her experiences as an educator reflected her passion for these children and her desire to provide them with a path to success.

Maria’s gifts were many, as we heard yesterday. Her example taught us about unselfish love, the belief in each person’s potential, the joy of service, the impact of faithful friendship, and above all, God’s compassionate and everlasting love. Maria lived these values and sought to teach them to us. She was, as Skip said, “Often imitated, never duplicated.” We will miss Maria’s presence but it is our responsibility now to live these values as Maria did throughout her life.

We pray very specially today in memory of Maria’s parents, Stella and Theodore, her sister, Doris, and her brothers, Albert, Cornelius, and Charles, who have gone before her and with whom she is celebrating a wonderful reunion in heaven today.

We pray for those people whose lives were touched by Maria’s kindness and dedication, especially her nieces and nephews and their families, her grandnephews and families, and her dear friend, Ethel. We pray also for the sisters, staff, and administrators here at Our Lady of Peace Residence, especially those in Household 3B, those who lived and ministered with Maria, and all who knew and accompanied her on her life’s journey.

On the table next to her bed, I found the following handwritten words with the title, “Finally Home”:

Just think of stepping on shore
And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand
And finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air
And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory
And finding it home!

Today we rejoice that Maria is finally home and we give abundant thanks to God for the gift of her life.

I now ask her nephew, John, to place the scriptures on Maria’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 Maria home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *