Written on: April 19, 2015
Jackson Heights, New York, was the birthplace of Sister Mary Denis Woods and where she ministered for many of the years of her religious life. She followed the path of her older sister, Sister Michael Marie, and entered the congregation. She was followed by her younger sister, Sister Mary Terence, who died at a young age. But for a time, there were three Woods sisters as Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. Sister Mary Denis is tall of stature and large of heart. She is best known as Principal of St. Leo School, Corona, New York, where she spent almost half of her fifty-six years in the ministry of education. She also served as Principal of St. Canicus School in Mahanoy City and Our Lady of the Assumption School in Stratford, both in Pennsylvania. After leaving St. Leo’s in 1992, she stayed in the Queens, NY, area where with her sister, Sister Michael Marie, she spent time in outreach to the neighborhood. When the Grey Nuns left Blessed Sacrament Convent in 2003, Sister Mary Denis and her sister both retired to the Motherhouse. One of her almost daily activities is leading the rosary with the residents of Holy Redeemer D’Youville Manor. Her mail box often holds letters from former students who remember her. Her nieces and their families are frequent visitors at the Motherhouse.
Each day is a gift from God. During my seventy years as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, I have tried to use this gift by caring for and serving people in their needs. As a daughter of Marguerite d’Youville, I am grateful to God for the opportunity to serve in the mission of education for fifty-six years and for the many years when I brought Communion to the homebound. My life as a Grey Nun has been blessed in so many ways. My first blessing was my parents who permitted their three oldest daughters to enter the Grey Nuns. Among my blessings has been journeying with my sister, Sister Michael Marie, for so many years. Today my life is blessed with a loving, caring family who visit often. My 70th Jubilee is a time to thank God for all the opportunities that He has provided in the missions where I served. I thank God for the gift of each day and trust in Divine Providence for the days yet to come.