Sister Kathleen Early- (Sr. Mary Rose)

Written on: October 14, 2019

Sister Kathleen Early (formerly Sr. Mary Rose), 94, died peacefully Wednesday evening October 9, 2019 at St. Joseph Manor, Meadowbrook PA, in the 73rd year of her religious life. The following reflection was delivered at her Funeral Liturgy by Sr. Bridget Connor, GNSH


Reflections for Sister Kathleen Early, GNSH. October 19, 2019 

Kathleen Mary was born to Hugh and Catherine Early on June 30, 1925. At 94, traces of a New York accent could still be detected.

Sister Maureen O’ Hara, who also grew up in Jackson Heights, remembers that Kathleen would quietly know who needed help in the neighborhood and let others know so that they could help in some way. Maureen mentioned that the O’Hara’s and the Early’s, along with other New York parents who had daughters as Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, would band together and fund-raise for the Congregation.

Concern for others and her extension of generosity remained with her from her early upbringing to her days at St. Joseph Manor.

She entered religious life in 1946. In 1952, she wrote,

I, Kathleen Mary Early, Sister Mary Rose, make perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and I consecrate myself from this day and for the rest of my life to the service of the poor and the education of youth, according to the Constitutions of our Congregation, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.  So help me God.”

For 73, years as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, that is what she did.  Sixty-eight of her ministry years were spent in education at:

St. Canicus in Mahanoy
Our Lady of Fatima in Jackson Heights
St Leo’s in Corona
Blessed Sacrament in Jackson Heights
St. Norbert’s in Paoli
St. Joseph the Worker until 2005

Having earned her Masters in Educational Administration from St. Bonaventure’s, she also served as principal.

Sister Denise Roche remembers her first year of teaching. It was a first grade class and Sister Kathleen was the principal. Denise remembers that Kathleen was not only kind but perceptive. Denise’s lesson in penmanship, while well planned, was not going so well. She told the students to follow what she was doing as she wrote on the board. Sister Denise is left-handed. All of the first graders picked up their pencils with their left hand and began to write. It was a surprise to parents to find all of the first grade students were left-handed! Sister Kathleen used to come just in time to send Sister Denise to do some work in the office while she took over the penmanship.

Quiet, kind and generous, that was Kathleen.

Kathleen admitted that Paoli was her favorite mission. She recalled her good friend, Sister Ann Cecilia, who was there with her, and some of her New Yorker companions, like Carol King and Rita Hofbauer, and the many students in her life. She loved her many years there.

In 2004, while teaching at St. Joseph the worker, a supervisor wrote,

…The entire staff benefits from Sister Kathleen’s willingness to assist in any situation.  She is a model of the Catholic values of generosity, kindness and humility.  Sister can often be found helping someone even when she is not asked; she has an intuition for when someone needs a friendly smile”.

Recently, Sister Diane Bardol spoke about Marguerite d’Youville’s biographical account in “Hands to the Needy.” She asked the residents of Artis to look at their hands and to remember what good they had done. One resident said she could not remember. Sister Diane asked, “Did you make any dinners?”Millions,” she responded.  She had four daughters.

I ask you to look at your hands. How have they served others? Do any of you have a gift from the very hands of Sister Kathleen similar to these crocheted magnets I am holding here?

I removed this magnet from our refrigerator, and would like to focus on it for a moment. Her hands were always busy. This is a heart that she crocheted. It is also a symbol of her life. She quietly and carefully cared; sharing her many gifts and humbly accepting others into her life.

In her assignment as Superior of Our Lady of Fatima Convent she wrote,

“I accept this appointment as God’s Will, and I beg the Sacred Heart to give me the graces I need for this important assignment.”

Losing her eyesight was very difficult for her because it meant not being able to crochet. In her own gentle way she was able to accept this loss. She knew suffering, but her sense of humor stayed with her.  In receiving a compliment on how lovely she looked, she retorted, “I look lovely everyday.”

She was an extraordinary woman who lived in a very ordinary way. She was faithful to God’s mission and served faithfully as a daughter of Marguerite.

May she be embraced by God’s abundant love and welcomed by the saints and angels, her family and many friends.


Sister Kathleen Early (formerly Sr. Mary Rose), 94, died peacefully Wednesday evening October 9, 2019 at St. Joseph Manor, Meadowbrook PA, in the 73rd year of her religious life.

A dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, she taught primary as well as middle grades.  Maintaining competency throughout, in later years she focused on technology and taught computer classes at St. Norbert and St. Joseph the Worker parish schools. When she moved to the Motherhouse in 2006 she generously assisted the less technologically savvy Sisters to conquer their fears of learning how to send and receive email.

This native New Yorker spent 21 years in her home environs, including as principal and superior at Our Lady of Fatima from 1960-66. She taught at Our Lady of Fatima (1953-57); St Leo’s (1966-67);  and Blessed Sacrament (1967-77).

But for more than 35 years, students in Pennsylvania at St. Canicus (1949-53) in Mahanoy City; St. Norbert (57-60, 1977-98) in Paoli and St. Joseph the Worker (1998-2005) in Fallsington, were guided to knowledge at her capable hands. Those hands also produced a myriad number of crocheted knick-knacks to brighten holidays, decorated tote bags, dish cloths, and a variety of other crafts.

Born June 30, 1925 in New York, NY to Hugh and Catherine McCarthy Early, Kathleen Mary Early entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart on September 8, 1946.  A graduate of Cathedral High School in New York, she earned her BS in Education from D’Youville College (1952) and took an MS/Ed from St. Bonaventure University (1974).

Predeceased by her parents, she is survived by her religious congregation and several cousins.

Funeral Arrangements:

Visitation will begin at 10 am on Saturday, October 19

Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel 521 Moredon Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA

Funeral Mass  at 11 am

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Sister Kathleen’s life of prayer and service may be made on line here, or by mail to: Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart,14500 Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19116-1188. We are grateful for your prayers and support.

Funeral arrangements by Beck-Givnish Funeral Home.


2 thoughts on “Sister Kathleen Early- (Sr. Mary Rose)

  1. Eileen White says:

    How I loved Sister Kathleen Early! She and I shared the space in the basement of our house in Cape May tutoring school one summer. She had the babies; I had the teenage boys who needed to make up their English grade. She and I laughed many times at her recollection of my reading the play about Helen Keller to those boys who probably could care less about the story! I treasure the memory of our shared memories and laughter.

  2. Anne Hoar O'Donnell says:

    Sister Mary Rose,Sr. Ann Cecelia,Sr. Mary Benigna, Sr. Mary Benedict, Sr.Mary Terrance, and Sr.Gerald Ann were the best of the best. Good,kind human beings whose only thoughts were to teach and to better the lives of a bunch of kids in Jackson Hgts. May she and those who went before her be in a better place than this. Go with God, Sister.

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