On May 21, Sister Francis Annice died suddenly. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for her on May 25 at Saint Joseph Villa and her burial took place on the same day in the Congregational Cemetery.
Jane Marie Sarah Lunney was born on November 13, 1933 in Bayonne, NJ to Francis and Sarah Ann Lunney; she was the youngest of nine, the remaining eight were her brothers. She attended Saint Mary Elementary School and Holy Family Academy. She and her family had their share of sorrow; her mother died when Jane was only ten years old. Fortunately, Sister Ann Bernard was on the faculty at St. Mary and made sure that Jane’s hair was fixed appropriately and that her socks matched, among other kindnesses. She graduated from Holy Family Academy in June of 1952 and entered the Congregation the following September.
From the very start of her religious life, Sister Francis was known for the virtues of generosity and compassion, joy and prayerful spirit. As her friends, community members, her family, those whom she served in ministry can attest, she was always ready to help anyone who needed help. One sister said that she was the most generous sister with whom she ever lived. She lived the words of the Constitution of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, “We give witness to our Constitution by the love we have for one another and by our spirit of joyful service and welcoming hospitality.”
Sister Francis served in the ministry of education as teacher, principal, and librarian for 55 years. Having studied education at Chestnut Hill College and Villanova University. From the latter she received a Master’s Degree in Administration. As important as the degrees and education were, and she used both wisely and well, her compassion and caring were always paramount. The story is told of the time she taught at Holy Child School: the father of a little boy who was about to enter first grade had died quite suddenly of a heart attack. The little boy was frightened that his mother would also die suddenly. To help allay his fears, Sister Francis told the mother to sit in the back of the classroom for some time each day until the little boy got involved in school work. By the end of two weeks, the little boy was fine. He grew up to be Father Chuck Pfeffer. Compassion traveled with her. When she worked as Librarian at the Ascension School, she would offer to babysit children so their parents could get to ESL classes.
Sister Francis had great faith; the knowledge she most wanted to pass on to her students was the good news, “God is your constant companion. You are never alone—you are always in God’s heart.”
We thank God for Sister Francis’ 66 years as a Sister of Saint Joseph; may she join the Communion of Saints in whom she very much believed and honored and may she delight in the joy of beholding God face to face.