Sister Margaret Dowling, S.C.


Sister Margaret Dowling, S.C., an educator and social justice advocate who was a leader of the Sisters of Charity of New York, did May 8 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers. She was 89. She served two terms as president of the Sisters of Charity, 1971-1979, during which she helped shape the renewal of the congregation and raised its awareness of and involvement in social justice issues. She was local superior of the congregation, 1950-1966, and general councilor, 1966-1971. Sister Margaret, formerly known as Sister Clare Marie, also was involved in civil rights activities and was a teacher and school administrator. She was director of elementary curriculum in the archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools Office, 1962-1967, after serving as principal of St. Augustine's School, 1950-1956, and St. Barnabas Elementary School, 1956-1962, both in the Bronx. Her first administrative position was as headmistress of St. Francis Xavier Academy in Nassau, the Bahamas, 1943-1947, where she integrated the school in a move that drew severe criticism. In 1965, she and Msgr. Robert Fox established the Full Circle justice movement, which evolved into the highly regarded Summer in the City program for inner-city youths. That same year, she joined 700 other sisters in a civil rights march through Harlem. After her service as congregation president, she spent two years in pastoral ministry in Guatemala. Returning to the U.S. in 1981, she began publishing a monthly bulletin called "Focus on Central America." Sister Margaret served for six years on the board of Network, a national organization founded by women religious to lobby for and monitor human rights legislation in Congress, and was coordinator for Network in lower New York state for 15 years. She also served as a human rights advocate with the Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace in Manhattan for eight years. At age 72, she began a 16-year ministry as a spiritual director and retreat leader while still continuing her human rights advocacy. She was a teacher at St. Bernard's School in Manhattan, 1936-1940; St. Anthony's School, Commonwealth Avenue, the Bronx, 1940-1943; and St. Peter's School, Staten Island, 1947-1950. Sister Margaret lived for 25 years in East Harlem, at St. Paul's Convent and at the convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, until the summer of 2006 when she cut back on her schedule and moved to Mary the Queen Convent. Born in Brooklyn, she entered the Sisters of Charity in 1934. She professed final vows in 1940. She held a bachelor's degree from the College of Mount St. Vincent and a master's from Fordham University, both in the Bronx. She was predeceased by two brothers, Father Gene Dowling, S.J., and Joseph Dowling. A Funeral Mass was offered May 12 at Immaculate Conception Chapel at Mount St. Vincent, with burial on the grounds of the College of Mount St. Vincent.



No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment