Currently the oldest member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Declan Sullivan, CSJ, became a Bethany resident earlier this year. One of four children whose parents had emigrated from Ireland, Sister Declan grew up in Revere. She entered the Congregation at age 18, initially teaching sixth grade at St. Charles School in Waltham.
When Sister Declan was next assigned to the primary grades at the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph, she had no idea how many children’s lives she would impact. Over an impressive 48-year career as a teacher, then Administrator of the Audiology Clinic, Sister Declan and her colleagues served thousands of deaf children and their families.
With degrees from such prestigious institutions as Regis College, Boston University, Columbia University and Northwestern University, Sister Declan was part of the movement of Catholic women breaking the glass ceiling in higher education.
When the Boston School for the Deaf closed in 1994, Sister Declan was not ready to retire yet. Instead, she volunteered at the Immaculate Conception School in her home parish in Revere. She provided speech and hearing tests to every child in preschool through grade seven for fourteen years. At the age of 90, Sister Declan finally decided it was time to retire!
Sister Declan moved to St. Joseph’s Hall, the Congregation’s convent for retired Sisters in Framingham, where she lived happily for ten years. Not long after her 100th birthday in December 2017, Sister Declan joined us to become a Bethany resident.
Here at Bethany, Sister Declan keeps a busy calendar, attending Mass daily and participating in a variety of activities. Some of her favorites include crocheting with the prayer shawl group, serving on the Resident Council, playing BINGO, and helping Regis College students with research projects. She loves keeping in touch with many of her former students from the Boston School for the Deaf and enjoys visits from several BSD alumni.
Sister Declan recently shared, “We are a very fortunate community at Bethany. Every person who works here has been carefully selected and it is reflected in the wonderful care we receive. Additionally, every aspect of the building, from the beautiful solariums to the lovely meditation patio is designed with the resident’s well-being in mind. The extensive activities program has something for everyone to enjoy. This helps to keep residents out of their rooms, socializing and engaging with each other. Bethany is truly a joyful place!”