When you get to know Sister Mary Fallon, you quickly realize she is a powerhouse of activity and spirit. Sister is a native of Caldwell and attended Saint Aloysius Grammar School where she first met the Dominican Sisters. After entering the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, in September 1960, Sr. Mary attended Caldwell College and majored in social studies and minored in elementary education. While teaching first grade at Saint Mary School in Rutherford and then history in the junior high at Our Lady of the Lake School in Verona, she earned her master’s degree in education, with a concentration in history from Seton Hall University in South Orange. Sister Mary then taught religion to primary grades at Our Lady of Lourdes in Mountainside.
From 1974 to 1980, she chaired the Religion Department and taught history at Lacordaire Academy’s Upper School in Upper Montclair. During this time, Sister Mary earned a second master’s degree in religion from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. After teaching religion and history for nearly a decade at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, she was the campus minister and Religion Department chair at Saint Dominic Academy in Jersey City from 1989 to 2012.
Sister Mary remained at Saint Dominic Academy until 2012 when she joined the Saint Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth, working with those who are poor and disadvantaged. She loved the position but was only able to stay six months because she was struck with multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in plasma cells in bone marrow.
Sister became gravely ill, and a stem cell transplant was necessary. She was not expected to survive, but through the power of prayer she did. Slowly but surely, she fought back against the disease that had taken over her body, sometimes finding it hard to accept that she was no longer able to keep up her level of activity. Thankfully, she is now in remission though the effects of the cancer have left her with neuropathy in both feet and legs causing weakness, numbness and pain.
In 2015, Sister Mary moved from Saint John the Apostle Convent in Linden, her home for 33 years, to Mary House within the congregation’s Motherhouse. This move to Mary House was possible only because the Motherhouse had an elevator to the building’s upper floors. This elevator upgrade, funded partly through grant proceeds from SOAR!, is essentially a lifeline for Sister Mary to continue living independently in community. She and the other residents of Mary House, Sophia House and Trinity House depend on it heavily to go to doctor appointments, grocery shop and take part in ministries.
As for Sister Mary, she is continuing to increase her activity and her spirit is revived! She is currently serving as the chair of the immigration/migration subcommittee, a part of the congregation’s Global Issues Committee, and is looking forward to celebrating her 60th jubilee in 2020.