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Sister Mary de la Salle, R.S.M.
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Obituary for Sister Mary de la Salle, R.S.M.

South Portland – Sister Mary de la Salle, R.S.M. (Patricia Josephine O’Donnell), 92, of the Diocesan Sisters of Mercy, died peacefully at Maine Medical Center on November 29, 2017 after a brief illness.

Born in Portland, she was the daughter of the late Michael A. and Anne (Scahill) O’Donnell, proud Irish immigrants from Carraroe, County Galway, Ireland. Following her graduation from Cathedral High School in 1943 and St. Joseph’s College in 1947, she began her teaching career at Erskine Academy and Fort Kent High School.

In 1952, she entered the Sisters of Mercy of Portland and taught classes at Cathedral High School and St. Joseph’s Academy, later continuing her studies at Boston College where she earned a Master’s Degree in 1959 and a PhD in History in 1963. Her tenure at St. Joseph’s College began in 1963 and after several years of teaching, became the interim College President, serving in this capacity from 1967-1969. For over forty years, Sister continued teaching history at St. Joseph’s and was a strong advocate for Catholic Higher Education. She was well-known by her students for promoting the importance of Western Civilization and her love of Medieval History.

Sister lived out her motto, “Serve with Joy” in so many ways, not the least of which was ministering to her sisters in community as Director of Formation (1973-1975) and General Councilor (1973-1984). Her involvement in various roles of leadership continued with the Diocesan Mercies from 1991-2006. Sister has always been noted for her selfless attendance to the sick and elderly sisters with whom she lived for over sixty-five years.

Sister M. de la Salle's thirst for knowledge continued long after her involvement in the world of academia. She was an avid reader and followed current happenings on the political scene, in the Catholic Church, and in the consecrated life of a religious. Sister was a strong supporter of the Pro-Life movement. Over the years she developed hidden talents as a seamstress and a candy-maker and graced many individuals with unique surprises.

Since 1977 to the present, Sister spent her vacation time and summers at Peter Dana Point, Indian Township with the Passamaquoddy whom she loved and admired. On the reservation and in the local area, Sister was loving referred to as "Sister Dee".

In addition to her parents, Sister M. de la Salle is predeceased by her siblings, Matthew, John, Michael, Patrick, Winifred, Mary, Bridget Agnes and Catherine.

She is survived by her nieces, Mary McLaughlin of Portland, and Frances Cece Bellantoni of Union, NJ; nephew, Michael McLaughlin of McLean, VA; many grand nieces and nephews; and the Sisters in her religious community of Mercy.

Visiting Hours celebrating Sister M. de la Salle’s life will be held on Monday, December 4 from 4-7 PM at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Prayers will be recited at the funeral home on Tuesday, December 5 at 10:15AM followed by an 11AM Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Cross Church, 124 Cottage Road, South Portland with the Most Reverend Robert P. Deeley, J.C.D., as principal celebrant. Interment to follow at Calvary Cemetery, Broadway, South Portland.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Diocesan Sisters Retirement Fund.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Sister Mary de la Salle, R.S.M., please visit our Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Visiting Hours




4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home - South Portland Chapel

1024 Broadway
South Portland, ME 04106

Mass of Christian Burial




11:00 AM
Holy Cross Church

124 Cottage Rd.
South Portland, ME 04106


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