Home Our Diocese Wilmington native, Ursuline Sister Joanne Desmond, dies at 93

Wilmington native, Ursuline Sister Joanne Desmond, dies at 93


WILMINGTON — Sister Joanne Desmond, a Wilmington native who spent 74 years with the Ursuline Sisters, died May 19 in Wilmington. She was 93.

The youngest of four daughters of Irish immigrants, Sister Joanne graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1943 and attended Immaculata College for a year before entering the Ursulines. She was a talented musician and taught music and directed glee clubs and choirs at Ursuline schools in Wilmington and New York from 1949-58, then at the College of New Rochelle.

Sister Joanne returned to Wilmington in 1968 and taught at Ursuline until 1977, after which she became an administrator. She organized the all-Catholic chorus composed of students from throughout the Diocese of Wilmington, and she was a cantor at the VA Hospital in Elsmere.

She was the first diocesan liturgical commission and was a member of a committee that composed “Gift of Finest Wheat,” the official hymn of the 1976 Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia. Locally, she sang for many years with the Northern Delaware Oratorio Society and volunteered as the treasurer for the board at Sojourners’ Place. Sister Joanne was a fixture at the annual “Friends of Ireland” dinner, singing several favorites.

Before her death, she was serving Ursuline Academy in Wilmington as honorary co-chair of the UA Capital Campaign for the Future along with Elena Delle Donne. Sister Joanne attended the school from third grade through high school. In the past, she had been a member of the school’s board of trustees and alumni board.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John J. and Mary; and her sisters, Mary Pippin, Cass Lee Maucher and Peg McGonegal. She is survived by a host of nieces and nephews.

A viewing will be held Wednesday at Mealey Funeral Home, 2509 Limestone Road, Wilmington, from 4-7 p.m. A second viewing is scheduled for 11-noon Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Sixth and West streets, Wilmington, with the funeral Mass to follow. Burial will be at All Saints Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in Sister Joanne’s memory can be made to the Ursuline Campaign for the Future, 1106 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806, or to the Ursuline Sisters’ Retirement Fund, 1338 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10804.