In Memoriam

Sister Marie Joannes O’Donnell, OP


“God has given me the grace of knowing that I want, more than anything else, to be a Sister of St. Dominic. Will you say that I may?”

The seventeen-year-old Mary Elizabeth O’Donnell, later to be known in religion as Sister Marie Joannes, was writing to Mother Gerald Barry on April 30, 1940, expressing her desire to enter the Congregation. At the time, Mary was less than two months away from graduating from Visitation High School in Detroit, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters who staffed the school had surely shaped her dream of religious life.

Mary was born on November 18, 1922, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Henry and Eva (Leppert) O’Donnell. Henry was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, while Eva was born in New York City. The couple had three children: Mary; Elizabeth, who was born in 1925; and Harry, born in 1928.

It seems that the family came to New York City at some point in 1928, for Mary attended St. Monica’s Parish school there in 1928-29 and was confirmed at the church in March 1929. By the time the 1929-30 school year began, the O’Donnells were in Michigan; Mary attended Visitation School for the rest of her elementary and secondary education. At least at the time she entered the Congregation, the family lived in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park and Henry was working at the Bower Roller Bearing Company factory in Detroit.

Read more about Sister Marie Joannes (pdf)

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


Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).

your Comment will be showing after administrator's approval

b i u quote

Save Comment
Showing 3 Comments
Avatar  CATHY CROSBY 4 years agoReply

It takes a minute to find words to describe Sr. Marie Joannes whose excellence in science was only exceeded by her humility and kindness. She was also very funny even though it sometimes took a second for her wit to register. She surely was good to me in many ways including conversations over the years about my children and work, life's struggles and hope.

Oh, my original comment was in fact posted. Well, here's another.

Avatar  cathy crosby 4 years agoReply

It saddens me to learn of Sr. Joannes passing, not death, but it also fills me with gratitude to have known her and been the beneficiary of her kindness, knowledge, and friendship. I was an unhappy 'girl' when I arrived at Barry in 1962, and her life still inspires me to finish my own as best I can. Here's to the nuns and to one especially terrific one whose goodness and excellence will long remain with those who knew her.

Avatar  Lois Morris 4 years agoReply

How so nice this is, for me, to be able to see all of these ladies, from a few years back. and be refreshed on them Love them all, thanks for this. Associate Lois Morris

Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 

Helpful Links

Event Recordings (Video Library)

Dominican School Alumnae/Alumni

Become an Adrian Dominican Associate

What do you have to do to become a Sister?

Share our blog, A Sister Reflects

Sign up for the monthly Veritas newsletter (or view our other publications)

Employment opportunities


We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.


Recent Posts

Read More »

Previous Years