In Memory

Sister Maryla Farfour, IHM

June 26, 1923 – June 20, 2020

Maryla Farfour, IHM

Sister Maryla Farfour, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on June 26, 1923, in Goldsboro, NC, and given the name Rosette Marie. She was the daughter of the late John Joseph and Georgiana Yammine Farfour. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1952, made her temporary profession of vows on August 3, 1955, and her final profession of vows on August 3, 1958.

Sister Maryla served as a music teacher in the following schools: St. Clare Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1955 to 1960; Marywood Seminary High School in Scranton, PA, from 1960 to 1969; St. John Elementary and High Schools in Pittston, PA, from 1969 to 1971; St. Mary High School in Manhasset, NY, from 1971 to 1972; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1972 to 1974; Archbishop Neale Elementary and High Schools in La Plata, MD, from 1974 to 1976; St. Agnes Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1976 to 1977; Our Lady of Grace Elementary School in Greensboro, NC, from 1977 to 1978; St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1980 to 1983; and St. Mary Elementary School in Goldsboro, NC, from 1983 to 1988. Sister Maryla also taught at Bishop Hannon High School in Scranton, PA, from 1988 to 2008.

Sister Maryla served as principal at Our Lady of Grace Elementary School in Greensboro, NC, from 1978 to 1980.

She also served as director of religious education at St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1972 to 1974; and liturgy and music minister at the IHM Center and at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA, from 2008 to 2015.

Sister Maryla was the moderator of the Marywood Seminary Alumnae Association from 1992 to 2017.

From 2015 until the time of her death, Sister Maryla served as a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Music degree in education and a Master of Science degree in religious education from Marywood College, and a Master of Music degree in music literature from the University of Notre Dame.

She is preceded in death by two brothers, George and Zeke, and two sisters, Mary Zahran and Judy Farfour.

She is survived by a cousin, Sister Angela Mary Parker, IHM, of Scranton, PA, nieces and nephews; and grandnieces and grandnephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Due to the restrictions related to the coronavirus, there will be a private graveside service only. Interment will be 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.

Sister Maryla’s vocation story:

Memorial Mass:

Combined Vespers Prayer Service:

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Fall 2020 issue

Sister Maryla Farfour, IHM

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President, at Sister’s memorial mass on Wednesday, October 14, 2020:

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:
they shall grow like the cedars in Lebanon”
Psalm 92:12

I chose this opening quote from Psalm 92 because of Maryla’s great love of her Lebanese heritage, but when I did a little research on those cedars in Lebanon, I discovered how appropriate the image really was for this day. The cedar trees in Lebanon grow up to 120 feet tall and have extremely deep roots and widespread branches that extend straight out horizontally 30 to 50 feet from the trunk. They are considered a symbol of strength and longevity. Tall, deep roots, arms widespread reaching outward, longevity: the description of the cedar tree fits Maryla to a ‘T.” Her utter trust in and love for God were the deep roots of her inner strength and determination and her desire to please her God moved her to open her arms wide to encircle
others with love and loyalty unbounded.

Maryla was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina and it is very safe to say her Southern roots remained at her core throughout her life. As a child of Lebanese Catholic parents living in the predominantly Baptist South, Maryla grew up experiencing personally the effects of prejudice and disapproval. Through the staunch support of her loving parents and extended family and her own developing strength of character, Maryla learned the value of kindness, loyalty, and friendship early on. It was also during these early years that music first became entrenched in her heart and soul. By third grade
she was taking organ lessons and at age 13, she was known as the youngest church organist in North Carolina. It is no surprise to us today to
learn that even back then, Maryla would often go up to the choir loft and play people’s requests for songs on the organ for hours on end.

After attending Marywood College and graduating with her music degree in education, Maryla returned to Goldsboro to work as a secretary and to ponder what to do with her life because, happy though she was, she said, “Something kept tugging inside of me saying ‘This is not enough.’” Finally, at age 28, she made the decision to return to Scranton and enter the IHMs. I should note that during her formation as a novice, Maryla demonstrated her
trademark honesty and forthrightness when she wrote that she found, “submitting her will to that of her superiors was the most difficult part” of
her training. No surprise, and a statement with which I think we can all identify!

As an IHM, Maryla served as a music teacher in schools in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina, where she also was a principal. During these years, she earned master’s degrees in religious education and music literature and taught religious education classes and theology in schools in Maryland and Pennsylvania. She was liturgy and music minister at the IHM Center and then here at OLP, where she also served as a prayer minister. After Maryla returned to Scranton in the late 1980’s, she became moderator of the Marywood Seminary Alumnae Association, a title of which she was most proud. She was untiring in her dedication to that organization and its members.

We all have some wonderful stories about Maryla’s generosity, compassion, hospitality, persistence, humor, and love for her family, her IHM community, her Lebanese heritage, and all those with and to whom she ministered. She invigorated us with her energy, awakened us to causes for justice, blessed us with her determination and unshakeable trust in God, and reminded us of the inherent beauty and power of music to enrich lives. She was a people-person, an engager, who saw each person through the lens of her own experience of a forgiving, loving, and persistent God. Her relationships were
many and lasting. Maryla had a zest for life, no question – things were never dull or quiet around her, and while we sometimes became exasperated
with her persistence, we learned to love that about her. She wanted the best for and from us all, including herself, because that was what God
desired. These valuable lessons remain deep in our minds and hearts, not to be forgotten. So today we give gratitude for the life of Maryla and the countless ways she shared life and love with us as sister, friend, music teacher, liturgist, and so much more during her sixty-five years of religious life.

We remember very specially today her parents, Georgina and John, her sisters, Mary and Judy, and brothers, George and Zeke, who welcomed her home in the fullness of life last June. We ask God to fill with hope and peace the hearts of her nephew, George, her cousin, Sister Angela Mary, all her loving relatives, her IHM sisters, especially those who lived with her here in Household 2A, her Marywood Seminary friends and students, and
all with whom Maryla shared life.

For her family and all those who knew Maryla, she truly was “one of a kind” and a cherished blessing in our lives. Her love for others and of music remained deep in her heart throughout her life, as did her great love for her Lebanese heritage. The following prayer is a Lebanese blessing which I think captures the thoughts of so many of her friends today and might also serve as a fitting tribute to her lasting place in our hearts:

May your soul tower with the
strength of cedars
Your heart pound with the
power of the sea.
May joy rise in you
like the mountains.
And may it be the blessing you share
with all those you love . .
that in you the great love of God
has found a home…
by Jeannette Abi-Bader, HM

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