In Memory

Sister Mary Barbara Campbell, IHM

October 20, 1927 – December 29, 2022

Sister Mary Barbara Campbell, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Josella) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Thursday, December 29, 2022 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on October 20, 1927, in Pittston, PA. She was the daughter of the late Allen J. and Mary L. Sullivan Campbell. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1946, and made her temporary profession of vows on May 9, 1949, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1952. Sister Mary Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education, and a Master of Science degree in secondary counseling education, both from Marywood College.

Sister Mary Barbara served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Bernadine Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1949 to 1952; Archbishop Neale Elementary School in La Plata, MD, from 1952 to 1959; St. Bernard Elementary School in Hastings, PA, from 1959 to 1963; St. Patrick Elementary School in Oneida, NY, from 1963 to 1966; Immaculate Conception Elementary School in West Pittston, PA, from 1966 to 1968; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Pittston, PA, from 1968 to 1977; St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Dunmore, PA, from 1977 to 1979; Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School in Forty-Fort, PA, from 1979 to 1983; Nativity of Our Lord Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1983 to 1987; and St. Patrick Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1987 to 1991. She served as a teacher’s aide at Wyoming Area Catholic Elementary School in Exeter, PA, from 1991 to 1994.

Sister also served as office assistant at Seton Catholic High School in Pittston, PA, from 1994 to 1996. She lovingly cared for her aged sister in Pittston, PA, from 1997 to 2010.

From 2010 until the time of her death, Sister Mary Barbara was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She is preceded in death by a sister, Helen Patricia.

She is survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Because of restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM Leadership Team Member

We gather this morning to celebrate the life of Sister Mary Barbara Campbell, a proud daughter of Pittston, Pennsylvania, the loving daughter of Allen and Mary and sister of Helen. In her 73 years as an IHM Sister and 47 years as a teacher and counselor, Mary Barbara willingly shared her many gifts and great love for her students and their families, her fellow teachers and her IHM sisters. As someone who spent over 30 years teaching high school and college students, I have a great fondness for those who minister in the elementary grades. I can recall the sisters I lived with sharing stories of how the little ones in their care would struggle with learning to read or write or interact with the other children. I have often reflected upon how blessed I was to have these sisters teaching and preparing these children for the day when they would arrive in my own classroom. Sister Mary Barbara was among our many gifted sisters charged with molding and shaping these wonderful little souls into the adolescents and young adults I had the pleasure of teaching. The importance of the foundational work of early educators can never be underestimated.

While Sister Mary Barbara spent many years teaching in elementary, middle, and junior high classrooms in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, she was also a trained school counselor, and I am sure that she offered guidance to all who sought a listening ear or recommended career or academic pathway. I have no doubt that those to whom she ministered found a place of welcome, love, wisdom, and support. Much like our blessed mother who sought the sage advice and support of her cousin Elizabeth, the students and colleagues blessed to receive the support Mary Barbara offered found an open heart and listening ear upon their arrival. She was a wonderful model of hospitality and sanctuary to all she encountered.

In her book, Circle of Grace, poet Jan Richards offers a prayer of blessing entitled, A Blessing Called Sanctuary. I share her words with you now in closing. I believe they resonate well with our own Sister Mary Barbara’s vocational journey and ministry as an IHM Sister.

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
that you were asked
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
taking your place
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found—
to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:
that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold,*
and you are welcome
and more than welcome here.

May our Sister Mary Barbara know the sanctuary she offered so many as she is welcomed home to the arms of her loving God.

I now ask her dear friend John to place Mary Barbara’s bible on her casket. This custom reflects our belief that our Sister Mary Barbara heard the word of God in her own life and this word now calls her home.

Well done good and faithful servant.

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