Sister Arleen Mary McNicholas died at Saint Joseph Villa on January 17, 2022. She was the youngest of eight children of James and Mary Lynch McNicholas. She attended St. Bridget School and St. John the Baptist High School. One of her fondest memories of her early days was singing with her sisters before they went to sleep each night. She recalled that her dad loved to listen to them and would often call up, “Girls, sing one more for me.”
Sister Arleen Mary McNicholas or Perky, as she was known in the Community, knew that many events drew her to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Her family’s prayer life and her sister, Maureen, who had already become a Sister of Saint Joseph, were strong components to urge Perky to enter the Congregation. Likewise, she saw the goodness and faithfulness of the Sisters at St. Bridget and felt drawn to become a religious herself.
Sister James Maureen, as she was known early in her religious life, was the consummate teacher. She experienced fulfillment as her students grew academically and spiritually as she shared with them how much God loved them. For over 50 years, Perky served in elementary schools as teacher, principal, and librarian with her characteristic cheerfulness, generosity, and zest for life. She worked tirelessly to educate the whole child, whether through personal guidance, summer programs, or even on the basketball court. Whether serving sandwiches to the homeless, organizing a field day for the entire school, or organizing games here at the Villa, Sister Arleen Mary McNicholas did all with a willing heart. She enjoyed music, reading, sports, and, most especially, family gatherings.
Often St. Paul’s letters gave Perky food for prayer. Paul’s letter when imprisoned sparked her funeral liturgy. This epistle urged the early believers to have faith and courage in the face of adversity. Her deep faith gave Perky the confidence to face her final weeks knowing she was formed in her mother’s womb, called to be His own, and would see the fulfillment of the promises made to her. Like St. Paul, she freely expressed her love and gratitude. Paul’s words were so true of the way Perky lived and died: “All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his Resurrection…in the hope the I myself will be raised from death to life.” That hope sustained her to her last breath.
We will miss you, Perky, but rejoice in your new life. Now you can join your family and continue to sing in the halls of Paradise. Remember to intercede for all of us who knew and loved you on this earth.