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In Memoriam: Sister Cecilia Sullivan, OSB

August 21, 1932 ─ January 25, 2024

O God, your servant, our sister, Cecilia
has faithfully completed her life on earth
and has now joined your saints in heaven.

For thirty years Cecilia taught grade school with
a special devotion to First Communion preparation,
instilling in children a hunger for you, O God.

She followed her missionary heart to Alaska
and then returned home to accept new challenges
in ministries where her kindness, persistence,
and generosity proved invaluable.

Cecilia’s close Irish family was nearly as large 
as her Benedictine community, and
she loved each equally in her own way.
Community and family were her greatest joys.

May we who mourn Cecilia’s loss take comfort
in knowing that she now enjoys the fullness of life
and the inexpressible delight of love.

Sister Cecilia Sullivan, OSB, 91, died on Thursday, January 25, 2024, at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

Sister Cecilia was born August 21, 1932, to Cecilia (Hammond) and John Sullivan and was baptized Jane Frances in her home parish of Sacred Heart in Sharon, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Sharon High School in 1950, she entered the Benedictine Sisters of Erie making her perpetual monastic profession on July 8, 1955, and taking the name Cecilia.

From 1952 to 1981 Sister Cecilia taught elementary education throughout the Diocese of Erie: St. Mary’s and Mount Calvary in Erie, St. Joseph’s in Oil City, St. Michael’s in Fryburg, Sacred Heart in Sharon, Immaculate Conception in Clarion, and St. Gregory's in North East. 

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Mercyhurst College in 1963, a Certificate in Library Science from St. Francis College, Lorretto, Pennsylvania in 1967, and a Certificate in Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1971.

From 1981 to 1986, Sister Cecilia lived her dream of missionary work when she moved to the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska. She taught sixth grade at Holy Name School in Ketchikan and was, at that time, the only Catholic sister teaching in the diocese. After three years of teaching Sister Cecilia spent two years with Holy Name Mission, traveling a broader area to do pastoral work with remote and underserved communities.

After returning to Erie in 1986, Sister Cecilia accepted a position as administrative aide and payroll clerk at Saint John XXIII Home in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. She was at John XXIII until 1994 when she returned to Erie and began a new ministry at St. Benedict Education Center (SBEC) as a math instructor for adults. She was also building supervisor and records manager at SBEC. She served there until her retirement in 2012.

In addition to her formal ministries, Sister Cecilia served her Benedictine community in various ways. She was a member of the sisters’ schola (choir) and was a past member of the handbell choir. Throughout her more than 70 years in monastic community she served on various committees as well as the community senate. She was also the community chronicler for many years, clipping stories on the Erie Benedictines from the local newspaper for archival purposes. Sister Cecilia was active in the Cursillo movement in the Dioceses of Erie and of Juneau. She was an Erie Diocesan Elementary School Representative for the Catholic Library Association and a Marriage Tribunal Advocate for the Diocese of Erie.

Sister Cecilia was preceded in death by her parents, John and Cecilia, and eleven siblings: Mary Curry, Clara Petrini, John, James, Edward, Cecilia Bracken, William, Theresa, Timothy, Alma Wagner, and Sister Bernadette, OSB. She is survived by her Benedictine community and by many nieces, nephews, and their families. 

Services will take place at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery: Sunday, January 28, 2024, Visitation from 2:00–5:00 p.m. and a Service of Memories at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, January 29, Visitation from 2:00–5:00 p.m. and a Mass of Christian Burial at 5:30 p.m. Interment will be Tuesday, January 30, at 8:30 a.m. at Trinity Cemetery. Brugger Funeral Homes and Crematory, Pine Avenue Branch, 845 East 38th Street, is handling arrangements. 

Memorials may be made to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, 6101 East Lake Road, Erie, Pennsylvania, 16511, click here.