Age 85

Sister Mary Dowden reflected God‘s mercy in her love of the students, parents and parish communities that she served.

From an early age, Sister Mary planned to follow in the footsteps of Catherine McAuley and become a Sister of Mercy. At the age of 18, she entered the Brooklyn Sisters of Mercy in Syosset, New York, to begin a lifetime of service as an elementary school educator and principal. Following her novitiate, Mary taught in St. Brigid and Maria Regina parishes in the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, respectively, while earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Nazareth College and Queens College, both in New York.

In 1969 when assigned to Our Lady of Peace Parish, Lynbrook, New York, Mary began a loving span of service to that community: 19 years as teacher, followed by 30 years as principal of the parish elementary school. During her tenure, Mary formed and directed a choir and glee club, whose performances enhanced all the important liturgies throughout the year. Mary could be seen for many years in the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade marching up Fifth Avenue with Our Lady of Peace Marching Band and Twirlers whom she carefully trained.

It was no surprise she was twice named “Woman of the Year“ by the town of Lynbrook. Her attention to detail, her firm, but gentle guidance of each student and faculty member, as well as her insistence on proper decorum and kindness made her long tenure so successful.

After retirement, Mary’s health began to diminish, and she accepted this in her customary way as God’s will for her. Two days before Christmas 2023, Mary joined a new choir to celebrate the birth of Jesus closing her eyes to earthly life and opening them in the kingdom of the God of Mercy to whom she dedicated her life.