Sister Moira Doherty , SFP


Sister Moira Doherty was received into heaven by the God she so loved on December 18th, 2009. Surrounding her bed at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York, to bid her farewell were Sister Anita McArdle and Sister Mary Veronica Donohue along with Bridget, Seamus and Michael, her niece and nephews.

Mary was born in Beaghmore, Fintown, County Donegal, Ireland, on July 22, 1930. She was the oldest of six children born to Bridget Timoney Doherty and Joseph Doherty. She is survived by three sisters, Bridie Mc Kendrick, Susan Nicolson, both residing in England, and Peggy Mc Glynn of Ireland and one brother, James, of Ireland. She was preceded in death by her sister, Josephine Mayberry. She leaves many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Sister Moira came to San Francisco from Ireland in 1954. She worked as a beautician for several years in San Francisco and also in Philadelphia where she resided with relatives. The cousin of Sister Moira, Father Victor Doherty, OFM, introduced her to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. After her visits with the Sisters at Mount Alverno and Frances Schervier Convent, she entered the congregation on September 12, 1962. Sister Moira spent her initial formation years at Mount Alverno.

Following Profession of Vows on August 22, 1965, Sister Moira worked at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, from 1965 -1966. In 1967 she was missioned to Frances Schervier Home and Hospital in the Bronx. For the next nine years, Sister Moira ministered to the elderly through hair and beauty care in a small salon in the Home. She labored with gracious love and attention to the elderly, providing for their every need while also using her skills and attention to detail to enhance their beauty.

On August 1, 1970, Sister Moira pronounced Perpetual Vows of Obedience, Poverty, and Celibacy as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor. Her Profession was indeed a glorious day, filled with joy amid her Sisters, relatives and friends gathered around her with love and support .

Sister Moira had a call and longing to develop and live a more contemplative life and to be of service to the economically poor and destitute of the city. And so, stemming from this call, a new journey began. Sister Moira received permission to move into a small apartment on Felix Street in Brooklyn and began to balance a life of both contemplation and service. At this same time she was associated with Isaiah Community -- a few blocks from her own setting which she referred to as Emmaus House.

The journey for Sister Moira to be “sister to the poor” led her to a variety on ministries over the years in the New York area. She served at Mary House of the Catholic Worker in Manhattan, St. Pius Women’s Shelter in Jamaica, St. John’s Soup Kitchen, and attended to the needs of the homebound elderly in Brooklyn.

Sister Moira was always eager to learn and gain new insights. She was one of the first Sisters to study the Vatican II documents. In addition, she was faithful in regularly attending classes, workshops and offerings on Franciscan Spirituality. She had a natural drive for beauty and enjoyed the pleasure of art.

A few of the noted character gifts of Sister Moira included her life witness to simplicity, commitment to prayer and contemplation and her continual availability to the poor and vulnerable. It seemed all of her gifts were flavored by her large Franciscan heart and spirit.

After a number of accidents that endangered her health, Sister Moira retired to Mount Alverno Assisted Living in 2006. Although retired to a degree, she managed to interact with Sisters, residents, family and friends as often as possible and seemed to thrive on those occasions. Only over recent months, her health began to decline and following needed surgery she developed unexpected complications which led to her passing into the hands of God, the God who she had faithfully served, adored and praised for all of her 79 years.

A Wake Prayer Service for Sister Moira was held the evening of December 21, 2009, at Mount Alverno Chapel among family, Sisters, Associates and friends. Many stories were shared with both laughter and tears about the life journey of Sister Moira. On the next day, December 22, 2009, in the same setting, the Mass of Resurrection was celebrated by Father Conrad Pecevich, a close friend. He shared that there were three identifying factors throughout Sister Moira’s life: being Franciscan, being for the poor, and being bread for others. In a packed chapel, overflowing with tangible love, Sister Moira was given back to God. We all thank our good God for your life among us, Sister Moira. Do pray for us.

Sister Mary Maloney, SFP

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