Sister Mary Joan Elias- 70th Jubilee

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.

9 thoughts on “Sister Mary Joan Elias- 70th Jubilee

  1. Linda Griffin Wilson says:

    Congratulations and blessings on your 70th Jubilee. What an amazing life you have lead as an educator and spiritual leader. You’re life impacted so many young people and made a real difference. I was one of those students from MDP many many years ago. Gods blessings and love to you.

  2. Catherine Curtin says:

    Sr. Joan,
    I remember your joy and smile. Thank you for your kindness and support during my very early years.

  3. Sue Rahill Carmody says:

    My father, Richard Rahill had often talked of you as a great childhood friend and a wonderful spiritual leader. When he passed in late January , he wanted his children to contact you let you know how much you meant to him and all Catholics you serve. However, the number he had given us was not working. After a long search, I stumbled onto this – God works in mysterious ways!!! Thanks for your unwavering friendship and journey through life here on earth. God bless you!! Congratulations on you relentless serve to God’s people!!

  4. Matthew Johnson says:

    I started at Mother of Divine Providence in October of 1970. My 1st day there you made me feel welcomed and special. You always had a way of making every student feel like they belonged. Thank you for always being there for your students.

  5. Ted Meehan says:

    To one of my all-time heroes and mentors, may God bless you very richly and abundantly for your goodness, your love, your service, and your leadership! You have blessed all who were lucky enough to enter your orbit. I am grateful to you for believing in a young kid just out of college to teach the kids at MDP. (I nearly went broke, but it was still the best job I ever had!) God bless you and thank you! Congratulations!

  6. Jeff Mccabe says:

    Wow. One of the Greatest of the Great Grey Nuns of The Sacred Heart. You may not remember me but you were my teacher and Principal at Mother of Divine Providence. You were the best. Hope you are staying healthy. I remember you like it was yesterday. Thanks so much for all you did for me and our school. Your hard work and dedication was fantastic. I’m so happy we have spell check Sister, or this text would have misspelled words throughout. If you can’t remember who I am I’ll give you a hint. You contacted my parents and I had several days detention because you caught me smoking. It was probably one of the first 8th graders and maybe the only in your career you caught smoking. Me and one of my friends snuck out the back door of school and ran to the wooded area during a thunder storm. Nuns noticed us and you came out with your Umbrella and yelled at us and then called our parents. To this day I think you did wrong Sister, by taking a chance chasing me down in a thunder storm. You put your safety on the line. And I got grounded (again) by my parents. Anyway you treated all of us so good and I always appreciated your love and dedication to all of us. Congratulations on your dedicated 70 years of service to all you touched and to Our Lord. I quit smoking 15 years ago. I stayed out of jail because of your teaching. I retired 10 years ago as a Police Officer in Upper Merion after 32 years. And I still am a member of MDP. Keep healthy and God Bless You, Jeff MCCABE

    1. Catherine Curtin says:

      Jeff McCabe,
      Wow, how the years fly. I remember you from MDP grade school.

  7. Mary Karen Kelly GNSH says:

    Congratulations, Joan, on seventy grace-filled years as a Grey Nun! I’m glad to have shared some of them with you and Mary Dee in Baltimore. Blessings in abundance!
    M Karen K

  8. Joe Tebo GNSHA says:

    Sr. Mary Joan

    Congratulations on your 70th jubilee. Many Blessings on your special day. You are one of few Sisters that I have never met. You are in a great band of Sisters.

    The Potsdam Associates
    Joe, Rose and Mary.

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