Sr. Joan Marie O’Neil of the Sacred Heart was born on November 24, 1929 in Cambridge, MA. The daughter of Henry O’Neil and Mary Hynes, Joan Marie was baptized at St. Patrick church in Cambridge and there received her First Communion and was confirmed. She had an older sister, Audrey, whom she loved dearly.
Joan Marie learned of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity through the MCA and the ministry in Croagh Patrick at her local Parish. She learned from her parents’ outreach to those in need in their neighborhood, values which became a part of her generous, giving spirit.
On the 24th September 1947, at the age of 17 she entered the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. After her First Profession on March 25, 1949, she was missioned to St. Mary’s Parish in Osterville, MA then to St Patrick’s in Wareham where she was assigned to parish ministry. In 1955, Sr. Joan Marie began her course of studies in nursing obtaining her RN Degree through the Diploma Program at Holy Name of Jesus Hospital. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree through St. John University, New York in 1961 and seven years later, in 1968, she obtained her Master’s Degree in Science at Boston College with her major in Maternal and Child Care. Most of her studies were done on a part time basis as she continued to work at the hospital and intertwine her studied with her nursing.
Her first assignment as a registered nurse was the Pediatric Unit where she became the charge nurse. From 1956-1968, she taught in the Holy Name of Jesus School of Nursing. In 1968, she became the Director of Holy Name of Jesus School of Nursing, she continued in this position until 1991. She was proud of the School of Nursing and the high standard of the school which maintained its National Accreditation for many years.
In 1991, Sister weathered the storm and painful closing of the Holy Name of Jesus Hospital School of Nursing. She was to begin yet another phase of her Missionary journey. She requested a mission in the New England area, closer to home, as her mother’s health was failing.
After a brief sabbatical, she served as an instructor at Community Health Services in Arlington, Massachusetts and then at Courthouse Nursing Care Center as staff educator. Then in 1995 she obtained a position Maristhill Nursing Home as Director of Pastoral Care where she served over the next 11 years.
Sr. Joan Marie’s service to others in a selfless, caring and quiet way was her hallmark. She was not one to draw attention to herself. No, it was about being present to others in the providence of everyday life. She reflected this thought in her faithful, thoughtful responses to the Annual Ministry community ‘Green-sheets’. As an instructor in the School of Nursing or to staff, she saw this as an opportunity to enrich others lives through living the Cenacle virtues. Many of her students have sent in their condolences accompanied by their fond remembrance of Sr. Joan Marie and her kindness, support and care for them. In later years about her ministry to the elderly she said, ‘This elderly population have been barely remembered. They are God’s poor and abandoned. I am enriched by those I serve.’
A very community minded person Sr. Joan Marie served on various committees and in local leadership roles. In 2011 Sr. Joan Marie came to the Motherhouse as her health was failing, she was missioned to the Ministry of Prayer and in 2014 she was missioned to Mother Boniface Cenacle at Wesley- even there she found ways of reaching out to other residents, as well as our Sisters, caring for others in their suffering- her mission continued.
Thank you Sr. Joan Marie for enriching our world in your quiet, gentle way.