|Birth: ||Jun. 5, 1910|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
|Death: ||Oct. 9, 2008|
Sister Mary Elise O'Hare, SSND
First Profession 1931
In her 77th year of profession as an SSND, Sister M. Elise O'Hare went quietly home to God at Lourdes Health Care Center in the early morning of October 9, 2008. She had been failing slowly for about two weeks, but was clear-minded up to the moment "God whisked her away from us." Her Liturgy of Christian Burial, on October 14, was presided over at Villa Notre Dame by Chaplain Tom Elliott, CSC, and Father Paul Guido, OFM, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New Britain, Conn.
Margaret Josephine O'Hare was born to John and Katherine McGlade O'Hare on June 5, 1910, and baptized at St. Charles Borromeo Church on West 141st Street in Manhattan, on June 29. She wrote in her autobiography that she arrived at the family apartment on West 144th Street in the midst of a terrible thunder and lightning storm. "I often thought perhaps I caught some of the rain; I had the gift of tears. One would only have to look at me funny and the shower would fall." Margaret had two older sisters and six years later a brother was born. Her parents' first boy had died before her birth; she wrote of him, "His name was never mentioned so I do not know anything about him."
When she was eight, her home parish became St. Joseph on 127th Street, Manhattan, where she started school and was taught by SSNDs from grades one to eight. She had been "too young and sickly" to go to school at St. Charles, but had walked in processions with the children there, once carrying a dove on a pillow. At first, Margaret was afraid of the sisters at St. Joseph and of going past the convent alone, but soon she grew to love them. At Confirmation she added Cecilia to her name.
After graduation in 1926, she enrolled at Hunter College High School "which I disliked very much; I was homesick for the sisters. I wanted to go to a Catholic high school, but my family felt that that was because of my being so long with the sisters." Consequently, Margaret chose a public high school that she did not name. She came to the conclusion that she wanted to be with the sisters, not only in school but also at home. She wanted to learn the "secret of their quiet ways."
After speaking with Sister Mary Anaclete, St. Joseph superior, Margaret wrote to Baltimore and received the desired acceptance, which designated August 15, 1927, as her entrance day. Her sisters were opposed saying she was not old enough, but her parents "made the sacrifice cheerfully." "Mother and I went shopping every day; we had a very happy time." With two other girls, she "received the bonnet at St. Joseph from Monsignor J.F. Rummel, who later became Bishop of Omaha."
After three weeks at Aisquith Street, Margaret's teaching career began when she spent one year in Pittsburgh and her second year as a candidate in Malden, Massachusetts. The grades she had are not recorded, but she remembered these years as happy ones. On August 6, 1929, she was received with 51 other candidates and began a two-year novitiate as Novice Mary Elise. The novitiate appeared to her "as a beautiful picture in a story book." Her autobiography ends with,
"We have only two more months and then we scatter to practice what we were taught. No matter where I am I will always hold a special place in my heart for those who trained me, told me how to become a good religious and get near to Christ. My resolutions on leaving the novitiate will be to remain a novice at heart, to carry out the lessons of the novitiate, and to strive daily to become more perfect."
Many agree that she carried this vision through to her final vows in July 1937, and throughout her long life. Sister Elise was a teacher of grades five through eight from 1931 to 1954 at St. Ann, Baltimore; St. Peter, Cambridge, Mass.; St. Saviour, Brooklyn, N.Y.; St. Mary, Bryantown, Md.; and St. Boniface, Philadelphia. As principal (and sometimes also eighth grade teacher), she served at St. John Nepomucene, Bohemia, N.Y.; St. Joseph, Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; St. Margaret Mary, Rochester, N.Y.; and St. Brigid, Westbury, N.Y. In between her years as principal, she taught for brief times at St. Joseph, Garden City, N.Y., and St. Mary, Malden, Mass. In 1951, Sister Elise received a B.S. in Education and History from Fordham University, and, in 1969, an M.A. in Administration and English from Fairfield University.
Finally, in 1974, Sister Elise arrived at the mission at which she would spend herself as teacher of English, bursar, and tutor until she went to Villa Notre Dame in 2002 – St. Francis of Assisi in New Britain, Conn. Her students learned the lost arts of diagramming and correct usage. At 92, Sister Elise was still sending out tuition bills for the school.
Once when she was chaperoning a dance, someone asked her if she was tired. Always quick with an answer, she said, "Have they played my favorite song yet?" She meant "Stairway to Heaven," traditionally the last dance for the junior high at St. Francis. Her sharp sense of humor was in evidence at Lourdes Health Care Center, where she spent the last four years of her life.
An avid reader, Sister Elise ran an informal lending library on the Marian Floor of VND. During these years she could often be found in the last bench in chapel, her Rosary held up in her hand. This love of prayer continued at Lourdes; her Rosary was often in her hands, her Office Book always nearby.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord!
Saint Marys Cemetery
Created by: AnnieSings
Record added: Feb 13, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48089978
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