Wilmington – Ursuline Sister Joanne Desmond, OSU died peacefully on Saturday, May 19, 2018. She was 93. A native Wilmingtonian, Sr. Joanne was the youngest of four daughters born to Irish immigrants John J. and Mary Toomey Desmond.
After graduating from Ursuline Academy in 1943, she attended Immaculata College in Paoli, PA. for one year before entering the Ursuline Order in Beacon, NY in 1944. A graduate of The College of New Rochelle, she held a Master’s degree in musicology from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She also did post-graduate work at the Westminster Choir College in New Jersey.
Sr. Joanne was a gifted musician who taught music and directed glee clubs and choirs in Ursuline Academies in The Bronx, NY, in Wilmington, and at The College of New Rochelle. She also served in administration as Treasurer, and later as Admissions Director, at the local Ursuline Academy. In the Catholic Diocese, Sr. Joanne was a member of the first Liturgical Commission, and was on the committee which composed the “Gift of Finest Wheat,” the official hymn of the 1976 Eucharistic Congress held that year in Philadelphia.
Locally, she sang for many years with the Northern Delaware Oratorio Society, and volunteered as Treasurer of the Board of Sojourners’ Place. Many an Irish person attending the annual “Friends of Ireland:” dinner enjoyed the event even more when Sr. Joanne was there to sing “Hail, Glorious St. Patrick,” and her sister, Peg McGonegal, the “Irish National Anthem”! Loyal alumna of Ursuline that she was (having attended the school since 3rd Grade). Prior to her death, she was serving with Elena Delle Donne as honorary co-chair of the UA Capital Campaign for the Future.
Pre-deceased by her parents, her sisters Mary Pippin, Cass Lee Maucher and Peg McGonegal and her nephew, John Lee, Sister Joanne is survived by her Ursuline Community and by the most loving and loyal nieces and nephews anywhere: Maryanne Lee Ennis (Dave), Carol Pippin Bray (Bill), Penny McGonegal Harbin (Roland), Mary Jo McGonegal, Pres Lee (Linda), Bob McGonegal, Chris Lee Marrone (Harry), Kevin McGonegal (Cindy), Jane McGonegal Sweeney (Terry), Beth McGonegal Bouchelle, and Bill McGonegal (Ginny). Many grandnieces and grandnephews, great- grandnieces and great grand-nephews also survive. She loved you all, and you showed your love right back to the very end. Her friends at the Lorelton added to the joy of her last four years, and they also survive her.
Viewing for Sr. Joanne will be at Mealey Funeral Home, 2509 Limestone Road, Wilmington 19808, on Wednesday, May 23rd from 4:00 PM till 7:00 PM. A second viewing is scheduled from 11:00-12:00 Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Peter, 506 N. West Street, Wilmington 19801, followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 12:10.
Interment will follow in All Saints Cemetery on Kirkwood Highway.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sr. Joanne’s memory to the Ursuline Campaign for the Future, 1106 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington, 19806, or to the Ursuline Sisters’ Retirement Fund, 1338 North Avenue, New Rochelle, New York 10804. Online condolences may be made at mealeyfuneralhomes.com