In Memory

Sister Mary Hugh Placilla, IHM

June 6, 1930 – January 17, 2016

Mary Hugh Placilla, IHM

Sister Mary Hugh Placilla, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, January 17, 2016, at Regional Hospital in Scranton, PA.

She was born on June 6, 1930, in Bayville, NY, and given the name Gertrude. She was the daughter of the late Melford and Gertrude Schrader Placilla. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1949, and made temporary profession of her vows on May 8, 1952, and final profession of her vows on August 2, 1955.

Sister Mary Hugh served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Thomas Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene, ID, from 1955 to 1963; St. Paul Elementary School in Cranston, RI, from 1963 to 1964; Little Flower Elementary School in Bethesda, MD, from 1964 to 1966; and Maria Regina Diocesan High School in Uniondale, NY, from 1969 to 1975. She served as department chair and teacher at the following: St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, DE, from 1975 to 1985; and Bishop Hannon High School in Scranton, PA, from 1985 to 1988. She also served as a catechetical instructor at St. Patrick’s Catechetical Center in Milford, PA, from 1952 to 1955.

Sister served as principal at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School in Rocky Mount, NC, from 1966 to 1969.

She also served as director of religious education and pastoral minister at Holy Rosary Mission in Philadelphia, MS, from 1988 to 1997; coordinator of spiritual development at Catholic Charities in Wilmington, DE, from 1998 to 2005; prayer minister at St. Matthew Convent in Wilmington, DE, from 2005 to 2007; and pastoral administrator assistant at Holy Trinity Parish in Williamston, NC, from 2007 to 2010.

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

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a Master of Science degree in religious education from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by three brothers, Donald, Melford, and Richard, and a sister, Betty Horn.

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

The funeral will be Saturday, January 23, at 9:30 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 Friday, January 22, 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 Saturday 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.



Reflections given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Mary Hugh Placilla, IHM Funeral Mass 1/23/16

Good morning, Everyone.

As we gather this morning to celebrate the life of Sister Mary Hugh, I want to welcome very specially her nieces: Diane and her husband Tom, Valerie and her husband Mike, Charlotte, and Gail and her husband John; her nephews: Tom and his wife Pam, Mel and his wife Kathy, and Tim and his wife Margaret, and all her grandnieces and grandnephews and their families from near and far, her IHM sisters, and all her many friends whose lives she touched in so many wonderful ways.

I am very happy to welcome and thank our celebrant, Father Don Williams, a long-time friend of Mary Hugh’s and of the IHM congregation.

I also want to express thanks to Sisters Jean, Eleanor Mary, and Mary Kay, the administrators here at Our Lady of Peace, and the OLP staff, for their constant care for Mary Hugh during her time here.

“Those we hold closest to our hearts never truly leave us.

They live on in the kindness they have shared

and the love they brought into our lives.”

How true this statement is regarding the lasting legacy of Mary Hugh, or Aunt Trudy, as her family called her. During this past week, and yesterday at the wake service, some wonderful stories were shared about her generosity, compassion, wisdom, persistence, humor, and love, especially of her family and her IHM community. She delighted us with her friendship and counsel, awakened us to the cause of justice and peace, especially on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, blessed us with her unshakeable trust in God’s love and mercy for all, and taught us the inherent value of joy and laughter, even at some of her own famous “Trudyisms.” She was a part of the very fabric of our lives and her lessons remain deep in our minds and hearts, never to be forgotten.

So today we give gratitude for the life of Mary Hugh and the countless ways she shared life and love with us as aunt, friend, companion, teacher, mentor, minister, and so much more during her nearly sixty-four years of religious life. Her students heard her voice of gentle but determined reasoning mixed with kindness, humor, and an eternal belief in the potential of each. As a pastoral administrator assistant, spiritual development coordinator, and pastoral minister, she shared her enthusiasm, generosity, dedication, and deep reverence for each person. Mary Hugh had a special gift for mentoring others in the faith and in the study of scripture, and for encouraging those she taught to be mentors as well. Her ministry with the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi was a particular joy to her; not surprisingly, she even took lessons to try to learn the Choctaw language.

Mary Hugh was a woman always in motion and always on a mission, it seems. I was with her at Bishop Hannan High School here in Scranton, and she was constantly planning projects for her students, and teachers, to get involved in, whether they wanted to or not! She believed an experience was worth a thousand words, so she was never content to just talk about poverty or injustice or racism with her students; she planned service trips to the soup kitchen, a letter writing campaign supporting equal pay for women, and role playing situations of injustice toward others because of racism. Things were never dull or quiet around Mary Hugh, and we loved that about her. Her mission always was to make each person and situation better and more deeply aware of God’s love for all. And that she certainly did, whether it was rearranging your furniture at home, whether you asked her to or not, or her daily witness of God’s care and concern for all those with whom she lived and ministered. Mary Hugh lived and shared God’s love every day, and we are all better for her having been a part of our lives.

We remember very specially today Mary Hugh’s parents, Gertrude and Mel, and her brothers, Donald, Mel, and Richard, and her sister, Betty, who now welcome her home to an eternal, all-encompassing love. We ask God to fill with hope and peace the hearts of her nieces and nephews and all her loving relatives, her IHM sisters, especially those in Household 4A here at Our Lady of Peace, the staff and administrators at Our Lady of Peace, and all with whom Mary Hugh shared life.

No one is indispensable in God’s kingdom here on earth, but a few are irreplaceable. For her family and those who knew and shared life with Mary Hugh, she was truly “one of a kind.” I think the following adaptation of Psalm 15 is a fitting tribute to her lasting place in our hearts:

Lord, who can be trusted with power, and who may act in your place? Those with a passion for justice, who speak the truth from their hearts; who have let go of selfish interests and grown beyond their own lives; who see the wretched as their family and the poor as their flesh and blood. They alone are impartial and worthy of the people’s trust. Their compassion lights up the whole earth, and their kindness endures forever. (adaptation of Psalm 15; A Book of Psalms, translations by Stephen Mitchell)

Mary Hugh indeed was a light in our lives. May her example continue to inspire and comfort us always.

I now ask Gail and Charlotte to place the Bible, and Sisters Regina and Eileen to place the crucifix, on Mary Hugh’s casket, for she heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it and received life to the full . . . the Word now beckons her home.

Leave a Reply

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