At the beginning of January 2016, a small committee began the work of what was initially called “The Cemetery Project.” The purpose of the project was to create a definitive record of cemeteries where Sisters of Charity of New York are buried. Congregation records show that since 1847, a span of two hundred years, 4,317 women have entered the Congregation. The committee’s work focused on those who remained and died as Sisters of Charity of New York. As the project began, the committee felt a real sense of “re-membering” each one of the women as part of the Congregation. Sisters Eileen McGrory and Dominica Rocchio joined with Sisters Maryellen Blumlein, Margaret Donegan, Jean Iannone, Helen McGovern, and Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Congregation Debbie Box, took on the monumental task in 2016.
One of the goals of the committee’s work is the formation of an electronic database for each cemetery, the name of each sister buried there, and other pertinent information for her. The first step was to collect all paper records the Congregation holds on the cemeteries where the sisters are buried. This information has been preserved over the years by sisters who worked in the Archives, by Secretaries of the Congregation, and other sisters who assisted them over time.
Congregation records show that the majority of sisters are interred in eight cemeteries: Saint Joseph, Yonkers; Calvary, Queens; Holy Cross, Brooklyn; Saint Raymond and Mount Saint Vincent, Bronx; Saint Peter, Staten Island; Saint Mary, Port Chester (Rye Brook); and Saint Agatha, Nanuet. After that, cemeteries are scattered from Tivoli to Tottenville to Port Jervis in New York State, with others in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and our missions of Bahamas and Guatemala. Records also uncovered one sister buried in California and seven in Canada.
We had a challenge ahead…and the work continues.
This essay is the first post of a new SC Legacy series.