School Sister of Notre Dame Joan Connelly (formerly Sister Mary Thomas Villanova) died on March 21, 2014, at Lourdes Health Care Center in Wilton, Conn. She was 79 years old.
She grew up in Rhode Island and Maryland and studied for one year at Rhode Island College of Education before entering the congregation in August 1953. After professing her first vows in 1955 she taught sixth grade at St. Michael School in Rochester for four years before moving to Fort Lee, N.J., where she taught at Madonna School from 1959-61. After professing her final vows in 1961 she taught at St. Brigid, Westbury, N.Y.; St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Dover, N.H.; St. Mary, Bethel, Conn.; and Archbishop Walsh High School, Irvington, N.J. In 1962 she earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Nazareth College in Pittsford and she later earned master’s degrees from St. John’s University and Providence College.
Sister Connelly later was a pastoral associate at the New Jersey parishes of Sacred Heart, Vailsburg; St. Michael, Cranford; Holy Trinity, Westfield; and St. Mary and St. Aloysius, Jersey City. She also served as a consultant and director of adult religious education for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass. In 2004 she became director of her province’s associate program.
She remained active in community service after moving to Villa Notre Dame in Wilton, Conn., and frequently ministered to the sick, elderly and shut-ins of St. Luke Parish in Westport, Conn., in the weeks leading up to her death from cancer.
She is survived by her sisters, Maureen Connelly and Ann Favali of Narragansett, R.I., and Margaret Cassidy of Warwick, R.I.; a nephew, nieces, grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins; and her sisters in the congregation.
Her funeral liturgy was celebrated in the chapel at Villa Notre Dame in Wilton, Conn., on March 24, 2014, with burial in St. Mary Cemetery in Bethel, Conn.