Sister Margaret Hurley, formerly known as Sister Paul William, died July 12, 2016 at Saint Joseph Villa where she had resided for a short time. Her Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Villa on July 18, 2016.
Sister Peg was born June12, 1928, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the fourth child of William and Mary, Irish immigrants from County Kerry. Peg and her siblings, Joe, Bill, Sheila and Mary were immersed in a strong Catholic upbringing. She boasted, “The Mass was the hub of our lives.” The Hurley children were taught by Dominican Sisters, but after grade school, Peg and her sisters enrolled in Holy Family Academy, Bayonne where Peg first encountered the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Endowed with a love for God and service to His people Peg engaged in the work and prayer of the Trinitarian Sisters during high school. Surprising to some, however, in her senior year, she responded with a generous heart to the call to “contemplation and courageous action” as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Sister Peg’s life attests to fifty years as an exceptional educator as primary school teacher and principal in the dioceses of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Noteworthy is the bestowal of the first annual Parochial School Teacher of the Year Award presented to her by the Knights of Columbus. Having completed her career as an educator, Sister Peg attended to the elderly at Saint Martin de Porres Village in Paterson and was a memorably happy and helpful presence at St. Andrew Convent prior to her assignment of prayer and presence at Saint Joseph Villa.
Perhaps the greatest boast of her life was her Irish heritage to which she remained faithful throughout her life. As a member of the Irish American League in Bayonne, she reveled in every opportunity to display her Irish pride in parades, social gatherings and activities while always wearing her Irish sash. It was no surprise that in 1988 she was elected “Irish Woman of the Year.”
In the summer of 2008, Sister Peg suffered a terrible accident while vacationing in New England. Her injuries were devastatingly severe and prayers for a miracle ensued for many months. Throughout her long and painful rehabilitation, Sister Peg maintained a spirit of resignation and hope. Hers was an uncomplaining, patient, even joyful trust in the healing power of God, and gratitude for all who contributed to her full recovery.
During her brief time at Saint Joseph Villa, Sister Peg would occasionally ask when she was going home since being away from Bayonne did not readily settle with her. When apprised of her final illness, she embraced its reality with a peace and fortitude that evoked her staunch, noble Irish heart so ready to go home to the One Who welcomed her to the eternal bliss of Ireland’s own.