Ann Marie Lawless, CSJ

We remember he in the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer.

November 23, 1936 – September 1, 2019

Next Sunday, September 8th, the feast of Our Lady, is for many Sisters of St. Joseph the anniversary of their entrance into the congregation.  Next Sunday will mark sixty-three years since Sister Ann Marie Lawless and I entered the congregation in the Novitiate building just down the driveway.  That first evening we found ourselves side by side in the dormitory at the top of the building.  Over the next year I learned what a dear person occupied the space next to me.  Ann was the real thing – a gentle, kind, positive person, who gave herself wholeheartedly to becoming the best person and best religious she could be.

 Ann Marie Lawless came to Framingham from the city of Waltham, one of six daughters born to Francis and Dorothy Lawless.  From an early age Ann knew the Sisters of St. Joseph as student and graduate of both St. Charles Elementary and High Schools.  Her loyalty to the Watch City was strong and she was truly a daughter of a proud civic community.

 When we earned our degrees at Regis, Ann majored in psychology, a perfect preparation for one who would spend her life in the ministry of education.  Indeed, through the years Ann taught at St. John’s Canton, Immaculate Conception North Cambridge, St John’s Swampscott and for over forty years at the Jackson School in Newton.  As a teacher Ann both challenged and supported her students calling them to “excellence, tempered by gentleness, peace and joy”. (CSJ Consensus Statement)

In addition, for nearly twenty years she gave her summers to the children of Bethany Hill, serving as a member of the summer camp staff, engaging the children in creative arts and crafts.  Ann was described as a “faithful, dedicated staff person, who brought much joy to the children who lived there”.

 The book of Daniel in the Old Testament contains a passage, the translation for which, taken from the old Douay-Rheims version, states: “They that instruct others unto justice shall shine as stars for all eternity”. (Daniel 12:3) From this day forward, when we check the sky at night, we’ll know that Ann shines brightly there because of her dedicated, faithful service as a woman religious and as an educator.

 One morning last week the daily prayer included a passage from the Old Testament book of Sirach (6:14), extolling the value of friendship.  “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter… beyond price… no amount can balance their worth”.  Ann Marie Lawless was to many such a faithful friend. I now invite Ann’s faithful friend of many years, Sister Marian Batho, to share her memories of Ann with us.

 Given by Judith Costello, CSJ

September 4, 2019


I know that Ann would want me to begin by first offering words of thanks to all who have been a part of her life: family, sisters in community, friends, colleagues and students. Ann was always grateful for your kindness, and your expressions of love and friendship. Thanks, also, to Sister Jackie McCarthy and the staff here at Bethany Health Care Center who cared for Ann so lovingly during these past two and a half years.

 All of us who have known and loved Ann would say that this moment is indeed bittersweet. We know and believe that Ann Marie is with God, the God whom she loved so dearly and served so well.  She is reunited with her parents, Francis and Dorothy, her sister Betty and all those who have gone before her.

 We rejoice that the many health concerns with which she struggled for so long are now over. But we will miss her dearly. We will miss her quiet strength, her gentle manner, her compassion, her good humor and her deep sense of gratitude. Ann knew that God had blessed her abundantly and she was very grateful. She was grateful for her family, her life as a sister of St. Joseph of Boston, her many years of ministry as teacher and all the people she met along the way

 Family meant the world to Ann. Jean, Dottie, Maralyn, Barbara and Betty, and later Wally and Ron.  You were so important to her! Her eyes would light up when talking about her nephews, Matthew and Brett and her niece, Diane. As the family grew, she enjoyed hearing stories about Ryan, Eva and Maia. She was so delighted for her nephews who found beautiful wives in Kirsten and Sonia.  The family reunion in early August made her so happy. The last hours of Ann’s life were spent cherishing her family.  Her face radiated with joy last Saturday afternoon when so many were gathered in her room.

 In a few moments we will listen to the Gospel of the Good Shepherd. The images that stand out in the story are the gentleness and tenderness of the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. 

Ann exuded that same gentleness and care in her classroom.  The Good Shepherd inspired her. Her students may have disagreed at times.  Ann was a compassionate and kind teacher. She knew each student well. She encouraged each one. She spent countless hours preparing her classes, correcting papers, writing recommendations and meeting parents. Nothing delighted her more than to hear from past students who attributed so much of their success in life to what they had learned in the

4th grade.

 Ann possessed a deep inner strength   She took great comfort in scripture. Her favorite passage was from the Book of Ecclesiastes.  “There is an appointed time for everything….” She carried these words in her heart each day. She would often say: “live each day to the fullest, do your best and let it go.”  With every joy she experienced, with every challenge she faced, she trusted that God walked with her every step of the way.  Within that same passage are also the words: “I recognize that whatever God does, will endure forever….”  These words were a great comfort to Ann. These are the words of comfort that she leaves with us today.

 Being the good teacher that she is, I believe that Ann is leaving us with one more assignment for homework.  Take time today and in the days ahead to hear Ann’s voice expressing her gratitude to you for being part of her life.  Remember her gentleness and compassion – bring these qualities to your relationships with others. Remember that death does not break the bonds of friendship and love that we have shared with her.

 Ann, we are so grateful for the blessing you are for each one of us.

 Rest in peace!

Given by Marian Batho, CSJ

September 4, 2019