Published December 6, 2012
School Sister of Notre Dame Sister Catherine Marie O’Donnell, a grade school teacher and school principal for more than 43 years, died of respiratory failure on Nov. 24 at Lourdes Health Care Center in Wilton, Conn. She was 87.
Mary O’Donnell was born on March 16, 1925, in Medford, Mass., to Irish immigrants Patrick O’Donnell and Katherine Kelly O’Donnell. The third of nine children, she attended Immaculate Conception School and Girls Catholic High, both in Malden, Mass.
After graduation in 1942, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore. As a novice she was given the religious name Catherine Marie. She made her first vows in August 1945 and her final vows six years later. She was a professed member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for 67 years.
Sister Catherine Marie spent her first year teaching at St. Sebastian School in Pittsburgh before being assigned to Sacred Heart School in Griffin, Ga., where she spent 11 years. In 1957, she moved north to Newark, N.J., where she taught at St. Peter School and then spent three years teaching at St. Joseph School Yorkville in New York City before being named principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Leonia, N.J., in 1964.
Sister Catherine Marie later became principal at St. Mary School in Meriden, Conn., where she stayed for 16 years. In 1986 she joined the teaching staff of St. John the Evangelist in Watertown, Conn., for two years before moving to the former motherhouse in Wilton, where she began a ministry of community service.
In 1991, she retired to prayer and presence at Lourdes Health Care Center in Wilton.
Sister Catherine Marie earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1952 from what is today Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore. She earned a master’s degree in education from Boston College in 1961.
A Mass of Christian burial was held on Nov. 27 in the chapel at Villa Notre Dame, Wilton.
Sister Catherine Marie is survived by two sisters, Charlotte Reilly of Waltham, Mass., and Sister Miriam Patrick O’Donnell, also an SSND, who lives at Lourdes Health Care Center.