Mother Marie Joseph Dalton, S.H.C.J.

Provincial Superior of the S.H.C.J., opened Rosemont College in 1921


Mother Marie Joseph (Agnes Dalton) was born in New York and was educated by the Sacred Heart religious order. She joined the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 1885. It was said that gentleness joined to courage, distinguished Mother Marie Joseph. As a young nun, and to a lesser extent all her life, she suffered from shyness and reserve, but bravely overcame it whenever her duty demanded it.

Her early years in religion were spent teaching in various parochial schools. Later at St. Leonard’s Academy in Philadelphia, she served as an assistant to the convent’s Superior, became Prefect (school principal), Treasurer, and finally a Superior.

Her administrative ability grew both as a Superior in New York (nine years) and as Provincial Superior of the S.H.C.J. in America (five years). In those capacities she was responsible for the purchase of some great real estate: two houses adjoining to St. Leonard’s in Philadelphia; valuable properties on Riverside Drive in New York; Waukegan, Illinois; Summit, New Jersey; and the Sinnott Estate in Rosemont, Pennsylvania for a college. Despite years of great financial anxiety, she faced it all with calm and courage.

Her last years in the U.S. were spent as convent Superior at Summit, New Jersey. In 1930 she went to Rome where members of the Society elected her as First General Assistant of the Society. As such, Mother Marie Joseph provided invaluable assistance where business relating to the Society in America was concerned.

Parting from her beloved native land was probably her last great sacrifice. Those who lived with her in Rome knew how deeply she felt about leaving the United States, but she, herself, never spoke of it. Mother Marie Joseph was to see America once more in 1932 - 1933.

After her return to Rome, her health began to fail; still she worked on despite great suffering. At the end of her life she received a visit from her sister, Mother Marcella (Dalton), S.H.C.J. During her voyage back to the U.S., Mother Marcella received a wire that Mother Marie Joseph had died on May 23, 1935 at the age of 69. She is buried in the cemetery of Campo Verano, adjoining the basilica of San Lorenzo outside the Walls, in Rome - the first member of the Society to be buried in Rome. Her sister, Mother Marcella Dalton, died just nine months later.