In Memoriam

Sister Elisa Joan Doherty, OP

Elisa Joan Doherty, Sister Michael Eilese


From the Gospel of Matthew we listened to the words, “When Jesus saw the crowds he went up on the mountainside and he sat down. His disciples gathered around him and he began to teach them.” The Beatitudes are not only a code of living. They are about Jesus. The teaching of the Beatitudes is to become like Jesus – to be that compassionate, empathetic, joy-filled, in solidarity with the vulnerable and to be selfless.

From the Gospel of Elisa’s life, many experienced Jesus.

These words began Sister Patricia Harvat’s homily at the funeral Mass for Sister Elisa Joan Doherty, a woman who spent forty-five years in ministry to the people of Puerto Rico, much of it living and working directly among the poor.

Joan Marjorie Doherty, who in 1971 legally added Elisa to her name, was born on October 19, 1932, in Detroit to Frank and Melita (Dederich) Doherty. Frank was a model-building foreman at General Motors while Melita was in charge of the home and the couple’s four children, of whom Elisa was the youngest daughter, preceded by Eleanor and Eileen. Later, Richard came into the family.

Joan’s elementary-school years were spent at St. Catherine School and then Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Detroit, where the IHM Sisters from Monroe were her teachers. Her musical talents began being nurtured at a very early age; she began taking piano lessons and later learned the organ. Her father bought a pump organ so she could practice at home and not have to stay after school to practice in the church. Within six months, she was playing the organ for the daily 6:30 a.m. Mass, with her sister Eileen singing.

Read more about Sister Elisa (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.


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Avatar  Vilma Amell 5 years agoReply

Sr. Michael was my music teacher at Colegio Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the sweetest and nicest person that really made a mark. Her enthusiasm in producing our Christmas shows (veladas) is unforgettable. More than a high school show it was like a Broadway production and we worked hard for her. I will always remember her for her kindness....

Avatar  Bertica Garcia Dubus 5 years agoReply

I was deeply touched by watching this interview. Sister "Michael" was my beloved music teacher at the Colegio Santo Domingo. I was fortunate to run into her at Adrian, while visiting other sisters (Sr. Barbara Chenicek and Sr. Rita Schiltz — my college art teachers), and had the opportunity to visit with her and revisit her time in Santo Domingo (which were as tumultuous as she described in the video). She was an incredibly talented musician with a beautiful voice but also a great example to the many young women that she touched. I was part of a group (COMDEI) which she formed with the objective of going to a poor barrio in Santo Domingo to teach religion to children. This was perhaps my first true experience in evangelization. I am deeply blessed and grateful at having had the opportunity to be taught by such a beautiful person as "our dear Sister Michael." I regret to not be close enough to attend the Mass tomorrow but will be there in spirit and heart. Thank you, Sr. Elisa for all you did to help me get close to Christ. You will live within me forever.

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