Aston, PA — Sister Margarella O’Neill, OSF, died in Assisi House on March 18. She was 86 years of age and had been a professed member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for 62 years. Sister Margarella (Margaret Mary Veronica O’Neill) was born in Philadelphia. She was a member of Incarnation Parish and graduated from Hallahan High School. She worked as a secretary for the J. S. Kemper Insurance Company. She entered the congregation in 1942, professing her first vows in 1944. She earned a BSN in Nursing Education, an MSN in Administration/ Nursing Education, and a PhD in Sociology, all from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Additional professional awards and achievements include:
- Sigma Theta Tau – National honor Society in Nursing – 1957
- American Association of University Women – post-doctoral award for sociological research: 1965-1967
- Who’s Who in America: 1975, 1978
- Catholic University of America: 1981 Alumnae Award for Excellence in Service
- Honorary Doctorate Degree – Villanova University, — 1983
- Honorary Doctorate Degree – Neumann College — 1996
Sister Margarella ministered primarily in healthcare and in college education. She enjoyed crafts, especially knitting and crocheting; classical music; and reading, especially historical fiction.
Sister Margarella ministered for 43 years in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. From1952-1956 she cofounded and served as Associate Director of the School of Nursing at Villanova University. She served for many years at Neumann College, first as Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Sociology (1965-1974) and later as College President (1983-1989). From 1974-1882 she was a member of the General Council for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, serving as Assistant General Minister and as Coordinator of Research and Planning. From 1990-1994 she ministered as Director of Clinical Effectiveness and Mission Effectiveness at Assisi House. From 1994-2000 she rendered clerical assistance in various congregational offices at Our Lady of Angels Convent. In 2000 she moved to Assisi House where she served in prayer ministry until her death.
Sister Margarella ministered for four years at St. Joseph Hospital in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, serving first as an instructor in the school of nursing and later as Assistant Director of Nursing (1948-1952). She also served as Director of Nursing Service at St. Francis Hospital, Trenton, New Jersey (1956-1959) and as Director of Nursing at St. Joseph Hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (1959-1962).
Sister Margarella’s overall service in healthcare was extensive. From 1975-1978 she was a member of the CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) Team on Nursing Research, planning for a nation-wide study of health and nursing care in the U.S. In 1982 the CARA Team’s work was issued in a four-volume report. She collaborated in the formation of the Franciscan Health System (FHS) as a healthcare corporation for the Sisters of St. Francis (1979-1981) and served as Chairperson of the FHS Board of Directors (1981-1982). She also gave extensive service as a member of boards of trustees (BOT) and planning committees, including the following:
- 1991-1993 – Executive Committee, Assisi House, Aston, PA
- 1992-1993 – Development Council, St. Mary Hospital, Langhorne, PA
- 1984-1987 – Chair, BOT, St. Mary Hospital, Philadelphia
- 1983-1990 – BOT Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE
- 1983-1989 – Chair, Executive Council and BOT Neumann College
- 1979-1981 – Steering Committee, Franciscan Health System, Aston, PA
- 1979-1981 – BOT, St. Joseph Hospital, Lancaster, PA
- 1978-1982 – BOT St. Joseph Hospital, Towson, MD
- 1976-1981 – BOT, St. Mary Hospital, Philadelphia
- 1976-1981 – Long-Range Planning, The Catholic High School, Baltimore, MD
- 1974-1978 – Chair, Planning Committee, St. Joseph Hospital, Reading, PA
- 1974-1978 – Planning Committee, The Catholic High School of Baltimore
Additional service included conducting workshops in Nursing Education and Service for the New Jersey Division of Health Care, developing and facilitating education programs for the Sisters of St. Francis, and facilitating General Chapters of Affairs for other congregations of women religious, including the Sisters of St. Francis in Buffalo, New York, and the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore.
All services were held on Thursday, March 23, followed by burial in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery in Aston. Sister Margarella is survived by two sisters—Rita Stahley of Philadelphia, and Helen Morris of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania; three brothers—Bernard, Cheltenham; Robert, Willow Grove; and Alfred, Willow Grove; nieces and nephews; and by her Franciscan family. Donations in her name can be made to Franciscan Ministries Foundation, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014.