In Memory

Sister Mary Egidius Flannigan, IHM

March 1, 1831 – March 6, 1877

Sister Mary Egidius Flannigan, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Tuesday, March 6, 1877 at St. Rose’s Convent in Carbondale, Pennsylvania.

She was born in March of 1831 in New York, New York, and given the name Eleanor. Before her entrance into the community, Eleanor served as a principal in a school located in New York City. She entered the IHM Congregation in August of 1857 in Monroe, Michigan. She receiveved the religious habit on December 8, 1857, and made profession of her vows in 1858.

On July 21, 1859, Sister Mary Egidius left the IHM Congregation in Monroe, Michigan to serve in the new Sisters of IHM Pennsylvania mission that opened in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, which at that time was a part of the Diocese of Philadelphia.

Sister Mary Egidius served as teacher at schools located in Susquehanna and Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Interment is at St. Rose of Lima Cemetery in Carbondale, 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.

An arduous journey from NY to MI to PA in mid-19th century by Sister Bernadette Thomas, IHM

Who is this woman, one of the earliest members of the Scranton IHM branch, born in New York City in the 1800s, entered IHM in Monroe in 1857, journeyed to Reading in 1859, and died in Carbondale in 1877? This woman of courage may have been greatly influenced by Fr. Egidius Smulders, CSsR, the second director of the congregation (as of 1847) who served with the Redemptorists in New York. This woman was Eleanor Flannigan, who, prior to entrance into IHM, was a teacher and principal in New York, and was known in religion as Sister Egidius.

After just two years in Monroe, she “journeyed” to Pennsylvania, where she ministered for 18 years. She is best remembered in Pittston, where she reached out to the young and old in the city. She was instrumental in founding the Pittston marching corps and in designing their uniforms. The parishioners remembered her death anniversary with a mass for more than thirty-five years. (Gillespie, Sr. Immaculata, IHM, The Sisters of the IHM, NY: Kenedy & Sons, 1921.) “Her influence was greatest and her memory has lived longest at St. John’s Pittston, the center of the mining district where she devoted her life to the welfare of the boys who worked in the mines. She was largely responsible for the temperance society that flourished among them for the wholesome activities that made their leisure hours safe.” (Kelly, Rosalita, IHM, No Greater Service, Detroit, MI, 1848, p. 152.)

Sister Egidius devoted her life to a spirit of peace and unity not only in her ministry activities. She was also greatly concerned about the separation of the three branches of IHM and strove to keep the sisters in the west in touch with the sisters in the east. It is well documented that she wrote to Mother Mary Joseph in Monroe, begging her to intercede with Bishop Lefevre to allow Mother Mary Joseph to write once a year, “even if it were only a few lines.” The original full newspaper obituary can be found in the IHM Archives holding.

“Sister Egidius was Miss Eleanor Flanaghan (sic) of New York City, and, before her entrance, principal of one of the New York City schools. She was highly educated when she entered the community at Monroe, Michigan, in 1856.”

(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, p. 158) She was received into the community on November 5, 1857.

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