Mary Philomena Morris, born on Feb. 17, 1931 in Creveragh, Co. Sligo Ireland, was the oldest child of William and Anne Devins Morris. She had 3 brothers: Liam, Vincent and John. Mary also had 2 sisters: Vera and Bernadette. Mary was educated by Sisters of Mercy, and Ursuiine and Presentation Sisters. She received her Leaving Certificate in 1948 and enrolled in the Caryesfort Teacher Training College. Mary worked as a Teacher's Assistant. Then at age 23, on February 11,1953, she entered the Aspiranture for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Cabra, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Six months later, Mary started the postulancy program in the US at St. Michael's Novitiate in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. On March 19,1954, Mary Phiiomena Morris received the religious habit and was given the name Sister Mary Leonie. Her novitiate training continued and on July 2,1956 Sister Leonie pronounced her First Vows.
Following her First Profession, Sr. Leonie was assigned to teach at St. Anne's School in Fairlawn, NJ. Her ministry of teaching math continued for 17 years. She taught classes at New Jersey parochial schools in Medford, Edgewater, Little Ferry, East Hanover, So. River and Salem. In addition, Sr. Leonie taught classes in Sylmar, California. In 1974, her excellent math skills took a new direction when she was assigned for 10 years to the Financial Accounting Offices at St. James Hospital in Newark, NJ. Sr. Mary graduated with a BS degree from Seton Hall University in August, 1968. With the advent of the 2nd Vatican Council, Sr. Leonie returned to her baptismal name, Mary. She continued to use her accounting skills and newly acquired computer skills in the Health Care ministry at St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ and the Mother Seton Residence in Montclair, NJ. Sr. Mary Morris brought dedication and commitment to each of her ministries. She did this in spite of numerous serious surgeries and long term physical problems. In 1997 Sr. Mary retired to live at St. Michael's Villa in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
For several years, Sr. Mary volunteered to assist Multiple Sclerosis patients at Holy Name Hospital. She served as a member of the MS support group, and continued to do this until she became too ill. During the spring of 2016, now aged 85, Sr. Mary's health started to deteriorate. She was hospitalized for a brief period, and then placed on hospice care. Sr. Mary died on June 7, 2016 in the Infirmary at St. Michael's Villa. Her funeral Mass was offered by Fr. James McDonald, Chaplain, in the Chapel of St. Michael's Villa on June 11, 2016, Sr. Mary was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, NJ, She was predeceased by her brothers: Liam and John and her sister Vera Thorley. Sr.
Mary was survived by her brother Vincent Morris in Sligo, Ireland, and her sister Bernadette Nicholas in Maine
"Life and prayer are intertwined, because the natural thing to do is to talk to God, to pray. Nothing is compartmentalized. "
Margaret Dove, CSJP