Sister Mary Eileen Crowley, MM

Born: February 3, 1902
Entered: December 29, 1924
Died: April 4, 1993

On Sunday, April 4th, at 9:30 p.m. in our Skilled Nursing Facility, Sister Mary Eileen Crowley peacefully gave her life to God. During this Lenten season she preceded us in our journey. Sister Eileen now enjoys the prize for her life, characterized by faithfulness and openness to God’s presence.

Clara Elizabeth Crowley was born on February 3, 1902 in Bristol, England. She was one of seven children born to John Francis Crowley and Teresa Mary Stiles. Her brothers, Francis Michael and John Joseph, and her sisters, Eileen Mary, Mary Teresa and Margaret Alice, are deceased. Her sister, Kathleen, is here with us today.

Clara Elizabeth went to St. Nicholas School in Bristol for 8 years until she was 12 years old. In 1914, the Crowley family moved to Canada, where for 2 years Clara Elizabeth attended St. Ann’s Convent School. While still very young, Clara Elizabeth learned to assume responsibility. She had to leave school in order to keep house for her father until his death in 1920. After this, she went to O’Sullivan Business College in Montreal where she specialized in commercial courses. She worked as a stenographer for Bell Telephone Company of Canada for two years, and two years for the Canada Steamship Lines before she entered Maryknoll.

Clara Elizabeth entered Maryknoll on December 29, 1924. At Reception she received the name Sister Mary Eileen. She made her first profession on April 30, 1927 at Maryknoll, New York. She continued her education at the Venard, through extension courses at the Catholic University of America High School division, and in Hawaii she took education courses.

In 1929, Sister Eileen was assigned to Maui Children’s Home in Hawaii. A year later she was assigned to a teaching position at St. Anthony’s School in Honolulu, where she made her Final Profession on April 30, 1930. It was at St. Anthony’s School where Sister Eileen developed a love for teaching, of which she wrote: “My most satisfying years of teaching were those spent with the first graders because they are always a challenge.” Sister Eileen devoted 38 years of her life to children’s education. It is touching to note that even as late as November of last year, her desire to be in touch with children again, especially the homeless, urged her to express her wish to go to Times Square on December 3rd to join in prayer for the homeless children. She was always looking for the right way of being sensitive to her own needs and other people’s needs. She kept a balance between the two and this kept her at peace.

While working in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sister Eileen became a U.S. citizen. She received her U.S. citizenship in December, 1950.

It was not only the children she loved and who loved her; the Sisters did, too. During the fifties she was made Assistant Superior in Waikiki and became First Councillor in 1962.

In 1968, she came to the Center, and until 1984 worked in the Rogers Library where her quiet presence was much appreciated.

Sister Eileen had a beautiful and serene smile which revealed a solid faith and openness of spirit. With this spirit, she faced the challenges in life, which she took as opportunities for growth. On the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 1984, she wrote: “The great growth and change in Maryknoll has not changed or affected my understanding of my missionary vocation. I have never, thank God, doubted my calling to Maryknoll.” Sister Eileen lived this call in a very fruitful way. She was a very warm and friendly person. From the children she loved, she captured a refreshing simplicity and a sense of trust. Throughout her life, Sister Eileen made many friends who remember her for her love and compassion.

We welcome our brother, Father Gerry McCrane, M.M., who will preside at this Celebration of the Eucharist.