Sister Marie Perpetua Sneeringer died July 4, 2018 at Saint Joseph Villa where she had resided for seven years. Her Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated July 10, 2018 in the Villa Chapel where her relatives, friends and sisters in community rejoiced in the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that were the hallmarks of this teacher of American History.
Reva Perpetua Sneeringer, born June 27, 1923 to parents John and Marie, was the sixth of eight children. She was baptized in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Conewago, Pennsylvania, significant in American History as the first American church dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Pet, as she was affectionately known, graduated from Delone Catholic High School, attended a business college in York and worked for two years before entering the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1942.
Sister Perpetua who proclaimed that she “trained for life, not a career,” utilized well her years of schooling including an advanced degree in American History from Villanova. She taught eighteen years in elementary schools and twenty-seven years in secondary schools in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Washington and the Dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown and Wilmington. Her life, centered in God and service to God’s people, rendered her interiorly free to undertake His work in a spirit of patriotic endeavor.
Sister Pet who deeply loved her family of many siblings, nieces and nephews, will long be remembered as “a real community woman.” Sisters attested to her welcoming spirit, great smile and strength of mind and heart. These were the qualities that touched the lives of the boys she encountered during her ministry at Paradise School where she oversaw their health care and medical records. She enjoyed driving them to doctors’ appointments and sought opportunities to lavish her caring attention so needed in their challenging circumstances. She found a special niche in her volunteer service at Saint Joseph Academy in McSherrystown where she charmed adults with her bingo and card acumen and endeared preschoolers with her lively reading sessions. It was reported that one mother inquired if there was a pet in the convent since her little one reported the presence of a pet there. The parent soon learned that Sister had been fondly introduced to the children as “Sister Pet.”
Sister Pet cherished her years at the Villa where community life, prayer, Mass, daily card games and other activities gave joy to her heart and which she gratefully expressed in her own words, “the loving care I have received here.”
We give thanks to Sister Marie Perpetua who pledged “one heart under God” for seventy-six graced years as a Sister of Saint Joseph and who was called home to eternity on July 4th as were those notables of American History, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1826. As the powerful closing hymn resounded in the chapel of Saint Joseph Villa in 2018, Sister Pet was at one with its triumphant final message,” My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”