February 17, 1926 - September 14, 2022
“My dear sisters, we must give our children a solid education which will stand them in good stead for later on in life.” (Themes, St. Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, page 80)
Sister Peggy Linahan was baptized Margaret Helen at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the second child and oldest daughter of John and Margaret. The family would eventually grow to include twelve children: six sons and six daughters. Years later she described her family saying, “Our parents blended strictness with love and always found ways to see that we had good times, fun with each other and, of course, wonderful birthday celebrations.” By the early 1930s the family had settled in the Upper Darby area and St. Laurence Parish where Peggy was confirmed and attended the parish grade school. Notre Dame High School in near-by Moylan is where she attended high school. It is also where she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
As Peggy began to discern a call to religious life, she looked no further than her high school teachers. From the first moment she met them, she was impressed with their spirit of simplicity and joyfulness. Her parents supported Peggy’s decision to pursue her call, and they journeyed together to Ilchester, Maryland, in August of 1944. Blessed by her parents, Peggy entered the community on August 13. Along with other young women in her group she adjusted to life in a religious community and prepared for the ministry of teaching. Peggy was given the name Sister Michael as a novice. She returned to her baptismal name after the Second Vatican Council, and was known simply as “Sister Peggy” the rest of her life.
A third-grade class at Julie Billiart School run by the Sisters at Ilchester was Peggy’s first mission. Her experience of being the second of twelve children must have given her a natural ability to handle groups of children since she was assigned to teach both at Julie Billiart School and then a first-grade class at St. Francis Xavier School in Washington, D.C. before finishing her novitiate. Peggy continued serving at St. Francis Xavier for another year and then was missioned to teach first grade at Saints Joachim and Anne in Queens Village, New York. After only a few months she was sent back to St. Francis Xavier where she served for the next eight years and taught grades one through three. The fall of 1959 brought Peggy a mission to teach grade 2 at St. Bernadette in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She returned to Saints Joachim and Anne in Queens Village in 1962 to teach first grade. This time she got to stay a while! Peggy later recalled these years filled with many blessings, diverse experiences, happy memories and good friends.
The Diocese of Brooklyn began a new educational program in 1964: Educational Television (ETV). The goal was to provide curriculum-based instructional media resources to support the excellent work being done in the Catholic Schools. They needed experienced, creative teachers to develop the program. Peggy became a pioneer member of the program while continuing to teach at Saints Joachim and Anne. By the 1966-1967 school year ETV was ready to broadcast. Peggy served the Brooklyn Diocese as ETV staff for the next six years creating two separate series for primary grades. She later reflected, “My teaching expanded from the classroom to a much larger group. I knew I was blessed to be a part of it. Not only were the children enriched, my mind was experiencing new ideas in communication. It was such a blessing.” Summers during these years found Peggy at Syracuse University earning a Master of Science in Radio and Television. That may have seemed like a very unique field for a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur at the time, but St. Julie Billiart was cheering Peggy on as she prepared to teach the students of the time necessary skills for life.
The Diocese of Rockville Center asked Peggy to take on a new project in 1972. They needed her to produce a series for seventh grade to support curriculum objectives about the history of New York State. Peggy accepted the challenge and spent the next four years working with a team traveling the breadth and depth of New York collecting materials for the series. The idea was to have footage that would tell the story and the ‘teacher’ would simply provide the voiceover for the video. Peggy felt truly blessed by all the good people she worked with on this project that brought history to life for students in so many schools.
As the project on the history of New York State finished in 1976, a new challenge presented itself. Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School in Brooklyn, New York, was looking for someone to write curriculum for, and then teach a course in Communication Arts. It would include setting up a production studio at the school so students could practice the skills that would open future job opportunities for them in the field of Communication Technology. Peggy accepted the challenge. She felt privileged to pioneer a new form of vocational education and enjoyed working with the high school students. She later reflected, “Some students taking the courses had not considered a future in TV, but changed, graduated from college and returned to tell of their success. What a blessing!” Peggy spent 35 years at Bishop Ford. Along with teaching Communication Arts, she served as the Audio Visual Coordinator and also taught Freshmen Religion for eight years. Peggy found teaching Religion both challenging and rewarding. For her it was also at the heart of the Notre Dame mission to make known God’s goodness.
Peggy was in her eighty-fifth year of life and completing sixty-five years working in formal education when she decided it was time to move into another ministry. She was surprised that her many coworkers and friends at Bishop Ford wanted to congratulate her on her retirement. Peggy had no plans to retire. She was simply waiting to see where God would lead her next. Her living situation was as much a question mark as her future ministry. The large convent where she had lived for many years was closing. As Peggy worked to empty the house, she contacted various groups that might be able to use the furnishings. One of the people that came to see what was available was Sister of St. Joseph, Tesa Fitzgerald.
Sister Tesa was the founding director of Hour Children, an organization focused on helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives. The name ‘Hour Children’ acknowledges the key hours that impact the life of a child with an incarcerated mother – the hour of her arrest, the hour of their visit, and the hour of their reunification. Sister Tesa saw in the convent many things Hour Children could use in its ministry. She also saw Sister Peggy: an energetic 85 year-old with a life-time’s experience with children of all ages, a caring heart and the ability to listen deeply to stories of each person she met. Sister Tesa invited Peggy to live and minister at Hour Children. It didn’t take Peggy long to say “yes!” She recognized a call to help those most in need and she responded. Peggy spent almost a decade serving the women and children of Hour Children. In 2019 she described her experience, “What a beautiful blessing for me—now in my senior years—our good God showering me with His blessings.”
It was no surprise to her Sisters in community that Peggy did not ‘retire.’ Her incredible energy, deep trust in God’s goodness, openness to God’s call, interest in each individual she met, and willingness to explore new ideas also marked her community life. She valued participating in community discussions and meetings of all kinds and did not mind traveling to join them. Peggy was willing to deal with I-95 traffic at an age when most of her peers wouldn’t be willing to drive across town. She was always eager to catch up with old friends and enter into new relationships with people God brought into her life. Peggy’s stance towards life was to see the glass at least half full, and she was known for her cheerfulness. Peggy enjoyed a good party and celebrations large and small, and underneath it all was a deep spirit of prayer for each individual and for our world. Her Sisters were grateful when Peggy joined the Mount Notre Dame Health Center Community in 2021and we again had her presence physically in our midst.
Peggy’s large family only grew larger and farther spread as new generations were added. She did her best to stay in touch and held each close in her heart. Peggy was deeply grateful for how her parents and siblings had given her life and shaped her in her early years and beyond with their loving support. She was also grateful to her Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and her many friends and coworkers over the years who helped her stay constantly rooted in God’s call and enriched her life. Peggy was asked to describe her life in 2019. She replied, “How would you describe that in a few paragraphs? What words would you use? BLESSED-BLESSED-BLESSED!” She added that she found herself repeating over and over again that “God is so good. I hope and pray I will continue to be ready for whatever future surprises He sends me.” As Peggy’s Sisters, family and friends celebrate her entrance into eternal life, we give thanks to our good God for the blessing she has been to each of us, and all the ways she made God’s goodness known to so many. We pray God will continue to lead her to new surprises as we join her in singing, “Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1)
- Born February 17, 1926, in Roxborough, PA
- Parents: John B. Linahan (born: Manayunk, PA) and Margaret M. Ryan (born: Norristown, PA)
- Siblings: John R. Linahan, Robert L. Linahan, Mary Patricia Linahan Nickel, Joan Linahan Kelley, Phyllis Linahan Desiderio, Thomas J. Linahan, Ruth Linahan, Ann Linahan Byrne, William R. Linahan, Richard T. Linahan, Frances Linahan Fardone, Michael Linahan
- Baptized on March 7, 1926, at St. John the Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA
- Confirmed on October 25, 1935, at St. Laurence Catholic Church, Upper Darby, PA
- Entered: August 13, 1944, at Ilchester, MD
- Professed First Vows: July 28, 1947
- Professed Final Vows: July 30, 1952
- Notre Dame High School, Moylan, PA, 1944
- B.S. Education, Trinity College, Washington, D.C., 1963
- M.S. Radio/Television, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, 1969
- M.S. Education, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY, 1975
- 1946-1/1/1947: Teacher, Julie Billiart School, Ilchester, MD
- 2/1/1947-1948: Teacher, St. Francis Xavier, Washington, D.C.
- 1948-12/31/1949: Teacher, Ss. Joachim & Anne, Queens Village, NY
- 2/1/1951-1959: Teacher, St. Francis Xavier, Washington, D.C
- 1959-1962: Teacher, St. Bernadette, Drexel Hill, PA
- 1962-1966: Teacher, SS. Joachim & Anne, Queens Village, NY
- 5/1/1964-6/30/1972: Teacher & Producer of Educational TV, Diocese of Brooklyn, NY
- 6/30/1972-6/30/1976: Producer & Supervisor of Educational TV; Diocese of Rockville Center, NY
- 1976-2011: Teacher & AV Coordinator, Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School, Brooklyn, NY
- 2011-2021: Volunteer, Hour Children, Astoria, NY
- 2021-2022: Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, OH
Died: September 14, 2022 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
September 15, 2022