News & Events
Sister Prudence McCarthy, CSJ
(Rita Marie McCarthy )
We Remember her
In the blowing of the wind and
in the chill of winter
September 6, 1922 – January 13, 2024
In the 84th year of her Religious Life.
Entered: September 8, 1940
Love expresses itself in many ways. Sister Prudence served her God as advocate and mentor in the classroom and in the principal’s office.
We say and believe that relationship is at the heart of our CSJ mission. Our God is a God of relationship. Though she would tell you that she is shy, “Prudy” formed meaningful relationships easily.
Sister Prudence McCarthy was named Rita at birth and was born to Thomas and Mary Galvin McCarthy in September of 1922. She grew up in Roxbury, the youngest of nine children, with three brothers and five sisters. By her own admission, she was “spoiled,” meaning: she knew she was loved.
Sister Prudence taught at St. Columbkille’s in Brighton, St. James in Haverhill, and St. Catherine in Norwood before becoming Principal at St. Matthew in Dorchester, and Gate of Heaven, in South Boston. She also served as Assistant Principal, at Sacred Heart in North Quincy and as librarian at Fontbonne Academy in her final years of ministry. By her own calculation, “Prudy” served in these capacities 159,000 students. In addition, many have said, “she never forgot a student.” In her years as a teacher and principal, Sister Prudence encountered many stories of students from all kinds of circumstances, and it is also told, that “she never forgot a student’s worth” and was known for making clear that second chances were deserved and exceptions were made when there was a greater need and greater good.
Love expresses itself in many ways. Prudence served her God as an advocate and mentor in the classroom and the principal’s office, but her devotion was also seen in her dedication to perfection in preparing the altar linens, faithfully, and yes, religiously. This was a ministry she valued greatly. In addition, she spent hours in the Chapel. In each of the places, Sister Prudence served, she was quick to make friends and attract devotees.
We say and believe that relationship is at the heart of our CSJ mission. Our God is a God of relationship. Though she would tell you that she is shy, Prudy formed meaningful relationships easily. Because she cared about their lives and families, the young Sisters from Vietnam who lived with her for a year called her “Grandma.” The staff at Fontbonne convent doted on her, and the Director of Maintenance there brought her ice cream from Peaceful Meadows every year on her birthday, even when his job relocated to another site and she moved twice more. At her bedside at Bethany, the staff grieved with us, telling her they loved her as she thanked them for everything they did for her. Her friend, Sister Jean kept vigil so she would never be alone.
Her nephew John, Chuck to Sister Prudence, and his wife, Marcia, from their home in Virginia through the years, were as close to Prudence as if she had raised them, with daily phone calls and visits to their home every Christmas. They were so connected that Chuck and Marcia called at the moment Prudy passed, as I was getting ready to call them. In addition, her faithful friend, Sr. Ann Marie’s family, the Ghilonis, became a second family to her, welcoming her to all celebrations and visiting regularly.
Sr. Prudence knew she was loved, and she knew that she was called by her God to be a vessel of God, so that by knowing her and for whom she lived, others might see God’s light shine through her. And shine it did.
Reflections given by: Betsy Conway, CSJ
January 18, 2024