Sister Marie Joannes O’Donnell, formerly known as Mary Elizabeth O’Donnell, died on Sunday, June 16, 2019, at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian, Michigan. She was 96 years of age and in the 78th year of her religious profession in the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Marie Joannes was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Henry and Eva (Leppert) O’Donnell. She graduated from Visitation High School in Detroit and received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian and a doctorate chemistry from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Sister ministered for one year at Dominican High School in Detroit, and eight years at Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian, Michigan, both Congregation institutions. She also taught for two years at St. Paul High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.
Sister Marie Joannes began her service to Barry College (University) in Miami Shores, Florida, as assistant professor in 1958 and served in that capacity for one year. In 1960 she was promoted to associate professor and also became Chair of the Chemistry Department; upon her retirement, she was given the honor of Professor Emerita. From 1996 to 2009, she was a volunteer tutor at St. Mary School in Miami, Florida.
In 2009, Sister Marie Joannes became a resident of Weber Center in Adrian, Michigan. She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Harry; and a sister, Elizabeth. She is survived by her Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Rite of Committal for Sister Marie Johannes will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. in the Congregation Cemetery. A Memorial Mass will be on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Catherine Chapel. The Ritual of Remembering will be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. in the Rose Room at the Dominican Life Center. Both the Memorial Mass and the Ritual of Remembrance will be live streamed.
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Anderson-Marry Funeral Home, Adrian.
From left: Sister Marie Joannes’ mother; Sister Marie Joannes with her father
From left: Sister Marie Joannes in her laboratory at Barry; Members of the 2001 Diamond Jubilee January Crowd are: back row, from left, Sisters Clara Patricks, Anne Marie Snyder, Agnes Carmel Dziak, and Mary Paula Connor and, front row, from left, Sisters Marie Joannes O’Donnell, Jean Charles Birney, Mary Annette Glendening, and Loretta Ann Walsh.
From left: Joining in a couples gathering of the Science and Math Department at Barry College are Sisters Marie Joannes O’Donnell, back row, second from right, and Paul James Villemure, back row, right. Religious Sisters celebrate completing their doctorates at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. in June 1947. Among them, in the back row, are Sisters Marie Joannes O’Donnell, left, and Helen Duggan, right.
From left: Sister Marie Joannes works with a Barry student, March 1982. Celebrating the 75-year Jubilee of Sister Marie Joannes O’Donnell in 2016 are, from left, Sisters Anne Liam Lees, Marie Joannes, Peg O’Flynn, and Lucy Ann Quinn.
From left: Sister Marie Joannes in her kitchen at the Barry University Villa, December 2002; Members of the 2005 North Miami Mission Group are: back row, from left, Associate Lloyd Van Bylevelt and Sisters Pam Millenbach, John Norton Barrett, Jeanne O’Laughlin, and Sarah Cavanaugh; middle row, from left, Sisters Kathleen Donnelly, Peg Albert, Marie Carol Hurley, Jeannine Holway, and Helen Faiver; and front row, from left, Sisters Marie Joannes O’Donnell, Therese Margaret Roberts, Dorothy Jehle, Mary Arnold Benedetto, and Myra Jackson.
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It takes a minute to find words to describe Sr. Marie Joannes whose excellence in science was only exceeded by her humility and kindness. She was also very funny even though it sometimes took a second for her wit to register. She surely was good to me in many ways including conversations over the years about my children and work, life's struggles and hope. Oh, my original comment was in fact posted. Well, here's another.
It saddens me to learn of Sr. Joannes passing, not death, but it also fills me with gratitude to have known her and been the beneficiary of her kindness, knowledge, and friendship. I was an unhappy 'girl' when I arrived at Barry in 1962, and her life still inspires me to finish my own as best I can. Here's to the nuns and to one especially terrific one whose goodness and excellence will long remain with those who knew her.
How so nice this is, for me, to be able to see all of these ladies, from a few years back. and be refreshed on them Love them all, thanks for this. Associate Lois Morris
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to
Sister Barb Kelley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.