The 19th Annual Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade will honor three religious women who have made a difference serving in community ministries, as well celebrating scores of community groups and Irish-American heritage.
Being honored along with grand marshal Derek Woods as the parade steps off at noon on Sunday, March 12 from East Tremont and Lafayette avenues are three members of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill: Sr. Joan Marie O’Leary, Sr. Peggy Gannon and Sr. Betty McLaughlin.
Sr. Joan Marie is a volunteer and Eucharistic minister to the homebound at St. Frances de Chantal and a volunteer friendly visitor at Jeanne Jugan Residence; Sr. Peggy is a friendly visitor volunteer at both St. Frances and Jeanne Jugan and Sr. Betty is involved in outreach at St. Benedict’s Church where she runs support groups and visits the homebound and sick to distribute Communion.
In a joint statement, Sr. Peggy or Sr. Joan Marie stated that they appreciate that people in the community recognize the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill’s contributions to the borough, where they have worked since 1899.
“(We) feel happy and proud to be selected as honored religious as we have always treasured our Irish ancestors and heritage,” stated the two sisters, adding that they first attended the parade in 1998 when it was “small but very spirited” and have seen it grow with many community groups and leaders feeling a sense of warmth, unity and Irish pride.
Sr. Peggy grew up in the borough and has worked in ministries at St. Joseph’s on Bathgate Avenue, Cathedral High School’s Sts. Peter and Paul branch, St. John Chrysostom and Monsignor Scanlan High School.
Sr. Joan’s parents immigrated from County Kerry in Ireland in 1927 and she was the former Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center’s pastoral minister.
Sr. Betty was a teacher at Aquinas High School for more than three decades, and has been a Sparkill religious sister for 55 years.
At St. Benedict’s for a decade, she has run support groups for people dealing with cancer and bereavement, as well as ministering to the infirm throughout the surrounding communities, she said.
Sr. Betty said that she loves being on the steps of St. Benedict’s Church after Sunday masses, which is where she gets her news about the community, adding that it is an honor to be recognized by the parade.
“It is extremely humbling,” she said. “I am not used to being in the limelight.”
Parade committee member Karin O’Conner said that the selection of honorees, including honored religious comes through the committee members’ community interactions.
She added that as of press time, the following bands, school and community groups have confirmed, with many more to be included as the parade date nears: New York State Courts Pipes and Drums, Elevator Constructors Local One Pipes and Drums, NYC Transit Pipes and Drums, FDNY Pipes, Irish Free School of Dancing, St. Catharine’s Academy, Preston High School and St. Raymond’s elementary and high schools.