we remember . . . mary thomas downing, ssj

“I assure you, as you did it for one of my least brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”    Matt 25:40

Sister Mary Thomas Downing, SSJ, age 91, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, died on August 16, 2018. She was in the 72nd year of her religious life.  She was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on May 17, 1927 the daughter of the late Thomas and Ella (Carlin) Downing.  She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from St. Ann Parish in Erie, PA, on February 2, 1947 and professed her final vows on August 15, 1952.

Sister Mary Thomas graduated from Villa Maria Academy, Erie, PA, in 1945 and continued her education at Villa Maria College, graduating in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education.  Sister furthered her education at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, by obtaining a Master’s degree in library science in 1977.  In addition, she supplemented her education by attending numerous computer classes.

Sister served in the ministry of education from 1947 to 1966 having taught at Maryvale Kindergarten in Erie and at St. Patrick, where she served as principal, Holy Rosary, Blessed Sacrament Schools in Erie; Holy Rosary in Johnsonburg; and at St. Agatha in Meadville.  She also served as librarian at Villa Maria College and Villa Maria Elementary from 1977 to 1986.  Sister especially enjoyed her clown ministry with the Jolly Jesters; for nearly 15 years, she was known as “Freckles.”  She was involved in ministry to the homeless at St. Patrick Haven in Erie for over 20 years serving as a board member and weekly visitor.  She served as receptionist and library director at the Sisters of St. Joseph Community Living Center, where she resided; the library was dedicated in her honor in February, 2011.