Sister Eileen Russell, a Sister of Saint Joseph for seventy years, entered eternal life on March 3, 2020. Sister died at Saint Joseph Villa in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Villa on March 9, 2020.
Eileen and her three sisters Mary, Ann and Betsy were raised by their parents Mary and Edward in East Orange, New Jersey where Eileen attended Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Grade School. In 1950 she graduated from Our Lady of the Valley High School in Orange, New Jersey. It was there that she met the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Eileen recounted in her living history, “As a senior at Our Lady of the Valley High School in Orange NJ, Sister Vincent Ferrer, SSJ asked me when I was going to answer God’s call. I gave it much thought, and by the end of the year, I made my decision to enter the Congregation in 1950, feeling strengthened by God to live a life of prayer and ministry.”
Eileen entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in September 1950 and received the habit and her religious name, Sister Assumpta Maria, in April the following year. For fifty-six years Sister Eileen ministered in schools in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Newark, New Jersey, and in the diocese of Paterson, New Jersey. In 2008 she was missioned to Saint Joseph Villa. Sisters, lay residents and staff who knew Sister Eileen at the Villa remember the many ways her presence affected their lives. Her quiet gentleness touched many, and they appreciated her peace-filled and compassionate manner. One person shared a little known fact that Eileen had sung on “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour” as a little girl!
For seventy years she had stored in a box letters written to her by her parents. During the last months of her life she took great comfort in having these letters read to her. People who knew Eileen also knew that she was very particular and organized about where things should be placed. We know that Eileen knew the right place for her. We give thanks for her life with us, and we rejoice with her as she now shares in the eternal joy and love of our God and all who have gone before her to their eternal home.