Mother Mary Louis

Mother Mary Louis
Mother Mary Louis Crummey CSJ
Mary Ann Crummey
Born 17 May 1848(1848-05-17)
Flushing, New York
Died 22 May 1932(1932-05-22) (aged 84)
St. Joseph's Convent Brentwood, NY
Occupation General Superior, Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY
Religion Roman Catholic

Mother Mary Louis Crummey was General Superior of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY for 40 years (1892–1932).

Mother Mary Louis was a powerful driving force for education and healthcare in the City of New York as well as the counties of Long Island, NY. In her lifetime Mother Mary Louis personally founded over 32 schools (both elementary and secondary), 2 colleges and 2 hospitals.

Mother Mary Louis was a woman who transcended the traditional gender roles of her time and provided a powerful example of the leadership abilities of women. Mother Mary Louis was a woman who exhibited great vision, strength, courage, wisdom and, most of all, faith.


Early childhood

Mother Mary Louis was born Mary Ann Crummey in 1848 in the then Village of Flushing in Queens County, NY. Upon the death of her mother in 1860, Mary Ann, along with her younger sister, Ellie, was entrusted to the care of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Joseph’s Convent on Main Street and Kissena Blvd in Flushing. Mary Ann went on to attend the Academy of St. Joseph,the Sisters of St. Joseph's private boarding school then located on the grounds of their Motherhouse in Flushing.

Early adulthood and religious vocation

In 1867, at age 19, Mary Ann entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, being given the religious name of Sister Mary Louis. Sister Mary Louis was a gifted musician, singer and organist and went on to serve as the Congregation’s Directress of Music at the Motherhouse. During her early years in the Congregation Sister Mary Louis developed a deep and abiding passion for education, most especially the mission of providing education to young women such as she had been provided when her father entrusted her to the Congregation's care.

Leadership in the Congregation

Sister Mary Louis was elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Flushing, NY in 1892. She was repeatedly re-elected to this position by her own Congregation of Sisters, ultimately serving in this capacity for a total of 40 years.

Mother Mary Louis was a highly regarded woman of her time and personally worked closely with the male leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York including Bishop McDonnell, Archbishop Molloy and Cardinal Spellman.

Accomplishments as General Superior

During the tenure of Mother Mary Louis as Superior, the Sisters of St. Joseph enjoyed tremendous growth and achievement. When Mother Mary Louis took over the leadership of the Congregation in 1892, the number of Sisters was at 300. At the time of her death forty years later, the Congregation had nearly quadrupled, consisting of more than 1,100 Women Religious.

In addition to increasing the number of vocations to her Congregation, Mother Mary Louis was directly responsible for the purchase and establishment of the Sisters of St. Joseph's Motherhouse in Brentwood, NY in 1901. At this time, when women did not yet have the right to vote, it was unheard of for any female to transact any type of real estate deal, yet Mother Mary Louis personally surveyed, selected and negotiated the purchase of hundreds of acres of land in the Town of Brentwood. She also oversaw the development of the land as Motherhouse, College, Novitiate and Boarding School for Girls, while maintaining the existing Convent of St. Joseph in Flushing, Queens, which was now a part of the City of New York.

Under Mother Mary Louis’ direction St. John’s Hospital in Long Island City and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Rockaway Park were both opened and staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph, as well as 32 elementary and secondary schools and two colleges, Saint Joseph's College (New York) in Brooklyn and Brentwood College in Suffolk County. The educational institutions established by Mother Mary Louis spanned the width and breadth of all four counties (Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk)of Long Island, NY

Death and legacy

Mother Mary Louis was felled by sudden illness in early April 1932, passing away a month later on May 22, 1932 in the very Motherhouse she had envisioned and made a reality. Mother Mary Louis was interred in Calvary Cemetery - Brentwood, NY. The private cemetery she had established for the Sisters of St. Joseph. The New York Times obituary of May 24, 1932 proclaimed Mother Mary Louis’ work of 40 years, "phenomenal."

In 1934 the Sisters of St. Joseph took up plans which Mother Mary Louis had begun shortly before her illness, to build an Academy for girls in Queens County, NY. At the urging of Archbishop Thomas Molloy, the Congregation named this new Academy in memory of Mother Mary Louis. The Mary Louis Academy opened its doors in September 1936.

Upon the recommendation of the New York City Council, the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, approved the naming of Wexford Terrace between Edgerton Boulevard and Dalny Road,in Jamaica Estates, Queens, Mother Mary Louis Way, in honor of Mother Mary Louis Crummey CSJ. This stretch of road lies in front of the Academy which was named for Mother Mary Louis in 1936. This dedication was done as a tribute to Mother Mary Louis' extraordinary contribution to the fields of education and healthcare within the City of New York.

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