Sister Agatha Doe

Written on: December 23, 2013

Remembrance given by: Sr. Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH at the Funeral Liturgy, December 27, 2013

Sr. Agatha Doe was all about love, family, community and service. While she did not leave much in writing about herself personally, I found several copies of listings—just the facts!

Sr. Agatha was welcomed into her family by her parents, Henry and Alice (Elsie). She grew up in Ogdensburg in a family with six brothers and one sister. She has outlived all of them. She has many nieces and nephews that she loved very much.

In those files, I found a letter from her pastor, Fr. Garand, when she was requesting entrance to the Grey Nuns, her pastor, he wrote: “She is a good, respectable girl and submissive to her parents.”

Sr. Agatha attended D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY and received a BS in ED and later a degree in Library Science from Marywood College in Scranton, PA.

She ministered in high schools in Buffalo, NY, Ogdensburg, NY, Atlanta, GA and Philadelphia, PA as a teacher and Library Media Specialist. She received grants for study in Economics (Plattsburg State) and Radiological Monitoring for Instructors from the Office of Civil Defense, Brooklyn, NY.

After she left the field of education she took a 60 hour training program on The Personalized Care Model for the care of the Elderly at the Ogdensburg Psychiatric Center.

Agatha spent 33 years of her life ministering in Ogdensburg, first, as a teacher and then as a Patient Advocate at Hepburn Hospital. When she retired from that position she continued to serve as a patient visitor.

She is well known and beloved in the North Country. Msgr. Duprey wrote me saying that “the Doe,” Sr. Agatha, made a good impression on the diocese.

As a teacher, Agatha was firm but loving and students loved her. However, when it was time to settle down, they knew she meant business! When the girls in my class felt deprived by not having gym classes like the boys, we approached Sr. Agatha and asked her to go with us to the gym for an informal gym class—after school! She obliged us and came with us on a regular basis!

Another time, Sr. Anne Marie and Sr. Agatha switched homerooms mid-year, so Agatha could “straighten out the boys.” Move day came and the chanting began in the boys’ homeroom: “Annie, ‘si’; Aggie, no! Annie Si, Aggie, no!” They kept it up until the move was completed. Once settled in their new homeroom, the chanting quickly ended.

In community, Agatha served as superior and local area government coordinator for many years. She was extremely well organized and sensitive to the sisters.

She was a gentle woman but not a pushover as her students and the sisters in community found out rather quickly.

Sr. Agatha served as the first Patient Advocate at Claxton-Hepburn Hospital and served in that capacity for 19 years. She served on the Foundation Board of the Hospital as a volunteer and visited elderly homebound persons in the high rise for the elderly and in their homes.

After she retired for yet another time from Claxton-Hepburn–I think the third time–she came to the Motherhouse. She settled in rather quickly and her ministry of love and service continued. She served as receptionist, welcoming visitors, and fielding phone calls. She often listened to sisters and staff and offered wisdom and counsel. Always cheerful, upbeat and pleasant, her lilting pages, brought smiles to many faces.

Over the years, as her health began to curtail her activities, she did not like it much but she accepted it graciously, even accepting the use of a motorized wheel chair, which, I might add, she became very adept at using.

Agatha’s life was about love and service to others. One staff member of the Motherhouse said of Agatha, “She was a real lady, very proper.” She enjoyed people and had a ready smile and laugh.

Earlier this week with several sisters who were visiting her at the hospital, Sister Agatha expressed frustration about why Marguerite had not yet come to get her. I even heard a hint of whine as she said it. She worried that perhaps her pleading with God and Marguerite had not been heard. Perhaps the reason for the delay was that Marguerite came to get her on the same date that Marguerite herself died, December 23rd.

Sr. Agatha, rest in peace in the arms of your God as you are numbered among the many you have loved to death. The Blessed Mother, St. Marguerite, your parents and all your siblings welcome you home as you welcomed so many in your life time.

Sister Agatha Doe, GNSH, formerly Sister St. Agatha, died at St. Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, PA on December 23, 2013 in the 75th year of her religious life. A native of Ogdensburg, NY, she attended St Peter’s elementary school and was a 1939 graduate of St. Mary’s Academy. She entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in September of that year. She earned a BS in Education from D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY and a BS in Library Science from Marywood College in Scranton, PA. From 1944 until 1981 Sister Agatha served as teacher and/or Library Media Specialist in elementary and secondary schools in Buffalo and Ogdensburg (St. Mary’s Academy: 1958-66), NY, Atlanta, GA and Philadelphia, PA. In 1981 she returned again to her beloved Ogdensburg to begin her ministry in health care, serving as Patient Advocate at A B Hepburn Hospital. Retiring from that position in 1997, she volunteered at now Claxton Hepburn Medical Center for ten more years.

Sister Agatha moved to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Motherhouse Retirement Community in 2007, where she continued her life of prayer. In June of 2011, failing health necessitated her move to D’Youville Manor Personal Care facility, on the Motherhouse property, where she lived until the time of her death. She is predeceased by her parents, Henry and Alice Daniels Doe and siblings James, Charles, Rev. Vernon, Harold, Gerald, Joseph and Phyllis Doe. In addition to her religious community, survivors include several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. A wake and prayer service will be held at 7 PM on Thursday, December 26 and a Mass of Christian Burial will be said at 10:30 AM on Friday, December 27 at the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Motherhouse, 1750 Quarry Road, Yardley, PA 19067-3998. Funeral arrangements by Beck/Givnish Inc., Levittown, PA

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at the above address.

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