Former general superior of Sisters of St. Joseph in New York dies at 91

Brentwood, N.Y. — A funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 12 at Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Joseph's Convent in Brentwood for Sr. John Raymond McGann, the twin sister of the late Bishop John R. McGann of Rockville Centre.

The Sister of St. Joseph, a former general superior of her religious order in Brentwood, died Jan. 6 at the convent, which is her congregation's motherhouse on Long Island. She was 91 and had been a religious sister for 68 years.

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre was the main celebrant of the Mass.

"Her tireless service and selfless loving leadership enriched countless lives over the decades," her religious congregation said in a statement.

"As we acknowledge her contributions to the communities to which she devoted her life," the statement continued, "it is timely to reflect upon a quote of hers printed in The Tablet [Brooklyn's diocesan newspaper] in 1978, shortly after Sister John Raymond was elected general superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph: 'A sister never retires. Her total life is a response to the Lord, until the day she dies.'"

Sr. McGann was general superior from 1978 to 1986. In that role, she led her congregation "with wisdom and courage to live out and consolidate the changes resulting from the Second Vatican Council," the statement said.

Under her leadership, the congregation's mission "flourished as sisters continued to minister in parishes, schools and medical facilities," it added.

The sisters also became involved in social services, ministry to the imprisoned, providing shelter to those in need and social justice issues.

"The life of the congregation was of great importance to her and out of a deep spirituality, Sister John Raymond encouraged participation and a great love for the members and mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph," it added.

Born in Brooklyn Dec. 2, 1924, Sr. McGann completed a bachelor of arts degree in English at the College of New Rochelle and a master's in English at Columbia University, and after one year of teaching in the public school system, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1948.

After teaching at St. Brendan's Parochial School and Fontbonne Hall Academy, both in Brooklyn, Sr. McGann joined the faculty of St. Joseph's College in 1956 as chairman of the education department. During her years at the college, her religious superiors called upon her to pursue further graduate study, and she subsequently earned a doctorate from St. John's University and completed post-doctoral studies at The Catholic University of America, Ohio State University and Loyola University.

Over the years, she was awarded honorary degrees by Niagara University and St. John's University and served on the board of trustees of eleven high schools operated by her congregation, as well as Cleary School for the Deaf, St. Francis School for the Deaf, Catholic Medical Center in Brooklyn, Maria Regina Residence and St. Joseph's College.

Besides her brother Bishop McGann, who headed the Rockville Centre Diocese from 1976 to 2000 and died in 2002, she is predeceased by her other siblings: Sister Thomas Joseph, who also was a Sister of St. Joseph, as well as Madeline McGann, Thomas McGann, Joseph McGann and James McGann.

Sr. McGann is survived by her sister-in-law Nancy McGann, and several nieces and nephews.