Ursuline Sister Joanne Desmond, OSU

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 Twomey 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 holds 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 Irishperson 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 PM.

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.


Submitted by Mil Mealey on
God rest her, she was an extraordinary lady. What a great age to live. She's in Good company now. I will not be able to attend her services, Maryanne, but will see you soon after I get to town.

Submitted by Sacramenta Landrum on
My deepest condolences to The Desmond family and friends for the loss of your loved one Joanne. Very soon Jesus Christ will resurrect the loved ones we have lost in death back to life Acts 24:15; John 5: 28,29, right here on a brand new Paradise Earth no more sickness pain or death Life Without End Revelation 21:1-5

Submitted by Ellen Riley on
Prayers and love to Sister's family. She was such a beautiful person and one of God's chosen one. May her love and strength help you heal of the psin of her loss. We were so blessed to have known Sister Joanne. She always had a smile and love for all she met.

Submitted by Rebecca on
Grief can be so hard and painful, but our special memories  can help us to cope. I'm sorry to hear about your loss and wanted to share the Bible's hope of a resurrection at a time when there is no more sickness, pain or death right here on earth according to Revelation 21:3,4.