In Memory

Sister Mary Luke Zaleski, IHM

September 16, 1938 – January 30, 2022

Mary Luke Zaleski, IHM

Sister Mary Luke Zaleski, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, January 30, 2022, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on September 16, 1938, in Carbondale, PA, and given the name Marlene. She was the daughter of the late Anthony and Helen Wnorowski Zaleski. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1959, and made her temporary profession of vows on June 27, 1962, and her final profession of vows on June 27, 1967.

Sister Mary Luke served as a nurse at the Marian Convent in Scranton, PA, from 1963 to 1964; and at So Others Might Eat Medical Clinic in Washington, DC, from 1986 to 1991.

Sister Mary Luke served at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Carbondale, PA as instructor for medical-surgical nursing from 1964 to 1969; director of nursing from 1969 to 1973; assistant administrator from 1973 to 1977; and administrative assistant from 1978 to 1986.

Sister also served as a nursing skills evaluator at the American Red Cross in Scranton, PA, from 1991 to 1994; secretary at AYUDA, Diocese of Scranton Hispanic Outreach Program in Hazleton, PA, from 1994 to 1997; and secretary at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Palm Coast, FL, from 1997 to 2003.

From 2003 until the time of her death, Sister Mary Luke was a prayer minister at Rocky Creek Retirement Village in Tampa, FL, the Marian Convent and Our Lady of Peace Residence, both in Scranton.

She received a registered nursing degree from St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing; a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Marywood College; and a Master of Science degree in nursing from Hunter College.

She is preceded in death by a brother, John P.

She is survived by a sister, Jewel M. Rowland of Honey Brook, PA; nieces and nephews; and cousins, including Jo Ann Jarrach of Matawan, NJ. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

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

Prayer of Remembrance and Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Mary Luke Zaleski, funeral Thursday, February 3, 2022

Blest is she who believed that the promises
made to her by our God would be fulfilled.

In these days since last Sunday, I’ve heard some very beautiful stories about Mary Luke and her faith and love for the poor and her kindness and gentle humor. The other night, one of the nurses on 1 C, where Mary Luke lived, told me that when she would come in to assist her, Mary Luke would ask her questions about what she was doing, and then would often end the conversation by saying, ‘I’m going to make a nurse out of you yet.” They would both laugh.

We knew Mary Luke as sister, nurse, instructor, director, administrator, administrative assistant, and prayer minister, but, most of all, as a person of faith and great love for God. She cared deeply about her profession and the people she served. She loved nature – its beauty, its changes – all reminded her of God’s love for all creation. As a nursing instructor and administrator, she used her own education and training to teach students and staff how to minister with compassion and understanding to patients, especially those who were most vulnerable. Her smile and her own kindness and patience toward her patients brought healing to so many people. If I had to choose one word to describe Mary Luke, it would be gratitude. In my own conversations with her, no matter the topic or whether or not we agreed, she always voiced her gratitude to me and for the congregation in her life. In her file were many letters from Mary Luke recounting countless instances of kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, and courage demonstrated by those with whom she lived and ministered. She appreciated the goodness in others.

We celebrate and give thanks, then, for Mary Luke’s life among us, for her unwavering love of, and trust in, God, and for her great gratitude for all that she received, the rejoicings as well as the sufferings. Her life was an example to me of the incredible power of true faith and trust in God to overcome the darkness in each of our own lives that sometimes seems so overwhelming, whether it be caused by illness, loneliness, or suffering of any kind. Joan Chittister refers to this as the internal “noise of the soul” that, rather than burden us, is meant to enable us to move forward “with new honesty, new hope.” Mary Luke successfully completed that journey and rejoices today in the loving arms of the One who walked beside her each step of the way. Her vulnerability throughout her life was also her strength and her gift to us because she came to deeply understand the truth of those words of Joan Chittister, that compassion, kindness, and understanding of others is a source of God’s healing and light in our world. Mary Luke sought to bring those gifts to those she met.

We bring thoughts of Luke’s goodness to our prayer today as we also remember very specially her parents, Helen and Anthony, and her brother, John, and her dear friend, Cephas, who welcome her home to the eternal, all-encompassing love of her God.

We pray in a special way for those who will miss her dearly, especially her sister, Jewel, her nieces, nephews, and cousins, especially Jo Ann, her Band members and all her IHM sisters, especially those here at OLP, our OLP nurses and aids and the LIFE Geisinger staff in Household 1C, and all who knew and loved her. We ask the God of all consolation to comfort all of us at this time of loss.

Mary Luke’s presence among us challenged and encouraged us, broadened and reassured us. Her compassion for the suffering opened our hearts; her illness reminded us of our own vulnerabilities, demonstrating that even amid our darkness, God’s light and love shines through and we can each make a distinctive contribution to our world that is good and sacred. Her searching for life’s meaning drew us ever closer to the God in whom she trusted and loved.

So let us continue our celebration now of Mary Luke’s life and final journey home to the God whose unconditional love enfolds her for all eternity.

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