Sister David Marie Scanlon, MM

Born: July 2, 1904
Entered: October 15, 1927
Died: June 25, 1986

On June 25th, we received a call from Sister Miriam Carol White at Monrovia to tell us that Sister David Marie Scanlon had died peacefully in her sleep early that morning. Although it was a shock to all the Sisters there, they recognized and rejoiced with their Sister at God’s gift of a peaceful death. Sister’s niece and her husband had visited Monrovia in the preceding week and this, too, was matter for rejoicing. To Sister’s niece, we extend our prayer and sympathy.

Marie Helen Scanlon was born on July 2, 1904 in Newport, Kentucky to Owen and Catherine O’Connor Scanlon. She had just one brother. Marie Helen attended local grade schools and received a BA from Mt. St. Joseph College in Cincinnati with our Sister Joseph Marie Kane. Both women entered Maryknoll in the fall of 1927 and those in the same group who had arrived on time and were already dressed in postulant’s clothing remember the two of them arriving late on St. Teresa’s Day and in the latest styles. The clothes, however, covered a great desire for religious life; she wrote of her choice of Maryknoll: “It is the only life in which I should be happy or contented.”

Marie Helen was professed on April 30, 1930. Earlier at her formal Reception she had received her religious name: Sister David Marie. Following her profession of vows she was assigned to the Philippines and taught at Malabon Normal School; she continued there as principal and superior when it became St. James Academy. Sister David Marie was an excellent teacher and related well to the students–she also loved dogs, to the delight of some and the despair of others in the Region.

The war broke out in 1942 and Sister was interned in Assumption convent and Los Banos, an experience she rarely spoke of even in these last years. After the war, she returned to Malabon where other Sisters had occupied the buildings.Through all the sensitive dealings with the Sisters and with the people, Sister David Marie was the heart of the reorganization process of the Sisters’ life and work, no easy task.

Sister David Marie returned to the U.S. in 1947 and studied for her Ph.D. in religion at St. Mary’s of Notre Dame. From there she came to the Motherhouse and served two terms as Assistant Novice Mistress; those who spent years under her in the Novitiate remember her as down-to-earth, sensible, dry, direct and somewhat reserved–qualities that not all novices in those days could appreciate!

Sister returned to the Philippines in 1961 and served as Dean of the first Sister Formation College in Manila and as Head of the Department of Theology at Maryknoll college. Her Master’s in Education was received during this time from the University of the Philippines.

In 1969, she returned to the States and held a series of positions–on a catechetical team in Florida, with the Glenmary Sisters in Tennessee, and as a confraternity of Christian Doctrine director in North Carolina. These were all places which had need of an educated woman who was willing and eager to serve the poor, and this seems to have been Sister David Marie’s charism.

After a brief stint in Rogers Library here at Maryknoll, Sister moved to Monrovia in 1975 and shared her life with the Sisters who loved having her there. Her death was as straightforward as her life–direct, simple, reserved, even in her last moments. The wake and funeral were held last week at Monrovia; we join her remaining family and her Sisters all over the world as we pray for Sister David Marie and commend her soul to God.

Father Martin Lowery, M.M., of the Korea Region will lead us in the celebration of our Liturgy today of Resurrection and Peace in remembrance and thanksgiving for the gift of life of our Sister David Marie.