The first name that is listed in the October necrology needs no introduction. Mother Catherine Muth was elected as the first prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Jersey City (later to be known as the Caldwell Dominicans) in 1882 at the time of the sisters’ separation from New York. Thus, she is honored as the foundress of the Caldwell congregation
Mary Catherine Muth was born in Germany on August 15, 1847. The family emigrated to New York City where Catherine became acquainted with the Dominican Sisters in Holy Rosary Convent. Following her profession in 1868, she was assigned to St. Nicholas School, which necessitated commuting to Jersey City along with her teaching companions. Sister Catherine was also a member of the “begging group.” They begged in New York at the ports, the markets and stores to help the many orphans who sought assistance.
The first Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of New Jersey was located on First Street in Jersey City. A downturn in the local economy and employment situation. This resulted also in polluted waters, disease and epidemics, especially among the young children with the Sisters worked. Consumption reach epidemic proportions and many of the young sisters died at a very young age.
Mother Catherine had heard that a cold, dry, climate would have helped to control these problems. The area of Caldwell, New Jersey was then known as the “Denver of the East because of its clean and healthy air. In 1884 her brother took her and two other Sisters to investigate. They visited the Harrison Estate which became the first Sisters’ residence in Caldwell. In 1893, When the “Beach House” in Caldwell, a former hotel, became vacant, Mother Catherine took advantage of the opportunity to purchase the property along with the thirty acres of belonging to it. “Keen business woman that she was, she also purchased many acres of ground on the other side of the road. A site was donated by the Sisters to the diocese, for the parish church of St Aloysius.
Along with her reputation as an astute business woman, Mother Catherine never set aside her love for the cloistered life of prayer. By the time of her death on October2, 1916, the Congregation to which she had given so generously was well established.
On October 3, 1980 three Caldwell Dominicans perished in a horrific automobile accident.on the Whitpen Bridge. They were all members of the faculty of Saint Dominic Academy. No one who was in the Congregation on that date will ever forget receiving the news of their untimely death.
Sister Eileen Imelda Lynch was born on March 4, 1919 in Bayonne, NJ. Her parents were Jeremiah Lynch of Bayonne and Mary Anne Hinchey Lynch from New York. Sister graduated from Holy Family Academy, Bayonne and entered the Community on February 2, 1938. After profession she taught in grammar schools from 1939-1949 and spent one year in Bayou La Batre, Alabama as teacher and Principal.
Sister served as mathematics teacher from 1950-1971 in St. Mary’s, Rutherford, Caldwell College, Lacordaire and St.Dominic Academy. In 1973 Sister suffered a loss of vision but was determined to seek all aids to lead a useful life. Learning of the Catholic Union of the Sick in America (CUSA) Sister became a librarian of its newly formed tape library.
Upon her sudden death, Sister Eileen was buried from Saint Aedan’s Church on October 3 1980 and is buried in Gethsemene Cemetery in Caldwell.
Sister Grace Cassidy was born on March 13, 1930 in Newark, NJ. Her parents were George Cassidy of Ireland and Elizabeth Cooper Cassidy from Newark. Sister Grace graduated from West Side High School, Newark. After several years of business experience she entered the Community on September 8, 1952. She was professed in 1954 as Sister Mary Mark (later returning to her baptismal name. She was stationed in Asbury Park for one year and Linden for five years before moving to higher grade levels as a math teacher for the next twenty years in Rutherford, Cedar Grove and Saint Dominic Academy. Sister graduated from Caldwell College and received her M.A. in mathematics from Boston College. While teaching at Saint Dominic Academy she was able to introduce Computer Theory into the curriculum. Among the many remembrances recorded by her students at the time of her death, one student wrote: “Sister Grace provided an example of quiet authority and love.”
Sister Grace was buried from St.Aedan’s Church on October 7, 1980 and is buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Caldwell.
Sister Theresa Puccio was the youngest of the three sisters killed in the car accident on October 3.She was born on August 11, 1947 in New York City. Her parents were Anthony James Puccio of Jersey City and Katherine Mackie of Jersey City. Before her entrance into the Community in 1967, Teresa served in the U.S Virgin Islands as a clerical volunteer for VISTA. Sister entered the Community on September 8, 1967 and was received in 1968 as Sister Terrence Marie (later returning to her baptismal name). Following her profession of vows in 1968 Sister was assigned to St. Mary’s, Rutherford, Sacred Heart, Lyndhurst, St. Brigid’s, North Bergen and St John’s, Jersey City before joining the faculty of St. Dominic Academy. Sister was ready in an instant to accommodate people and endeared herself to all.
Sister Terry was buried from Sacred Heart Church, Jersey City on October 8, 1980 and is buried in Gethsemene Cemetery in Caldwell.