Written on: May 11, 2020
Sister Mary Joan Elias’ interest in religious life was sparked early in life due to the proximity of her home to the Carmelite Monastery in Buffalo, NY. After two years at D’Youville College, she entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart who had become part of her life as a student at St. Rose of Lima School and Holy Angels Academy.
During her 70 years as a Grey Nun, she has been a teacher, a congregational Superior and a principal in schools in Lowell, MA, Ogdensburg and Eden, NY and Our Mother of Providence in King of Prussia, PA.
In the 70’s, she moved with her good friend, Sister Mary Dee Smith, to Baltimore and to a position as Assistant Principal and then Principal at Archbishop Keough High School. Even after her “retirement,” she continued to serve as Principal at Resurrection-St. Paul School for nine years.
Sister Mary Joan and Sister Mary Dee served on the board of Asylee Women Enterprise, an organization that journeys with asylum seekers and other forced migrants as they navigate the immigration legal process, begin to heal from past trauma and rebuild their lives. During her many years in Baltimore, she made many good friends and cherishes fond memories. Presently she lives in Philadelphia and continues her love of cooking, feeding many of her sister friends.
During these 70 years, I have been blessed beyond measure. Grey Nuns were my teachers and my spiritual guides, mentors and friends. As I look back over my life, I thank God for my parents who nurtured my faith and for my brother and my sister who gave me an example of devotion and sacrifice as they raised their families. Many of the areas in which I served have enriched my life with opportunities for growth and lifelong friendships. My 43 years in Baltimore afforded me many blessings and a special source of love and support through friendships. This has been a beautiful and fruitful journey, fraught at times with pain and suffering but always with a peace and joy in the Lord. As my time on this planet diminishes, the refrain “Yahweh, I know you are near” echoes in my heart. My deepest gratitude goes to my family, my Grey Nun Community and my dear friends. In complete trust in Providence, I lift my voice to God with love and gratitude.