Sr. Ellen (Joan St. Ann) Reilly

"Our idea of God's goodness is never comprehensive enough. It must make our hearts as wide as the world." – St. Julie Billiart

I was the youngest of five children, born to Patrick and Anna (Sheehan) Reilly. My mother died in childbirth with the sixth child so dad had five children under the age of eight! My dad could not manage all of us kids on his own and my cousin offered her home to me. This is where I grew up along with her two children.

I attended St. Margaret’s Grammar School and later St. Mary’s Notre Dame High School. After high school I worked at Beverly Hospital doing Blue Cross secretarial work. I spent that time discerning whether to marry and have a large family that could stay together or answer the call to be a SND. In 1959 I decided to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame in Waltham, MA.

I enjoyed teaching primary grades for many years, but later saw that adult Catholics in parishes needed to be educated in the Theology of Vatican II. This prompted me to pursue a Masters Degree in Pastoral Ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

That education served me well as Pastoral Associate, first in St. Monica Parish in Tucson, AZ, in 1975, followed by Pastoral Ministry at St Bernadette’s Parish in Randolph, MA for 25 years, which I loved. A new pastor was assigned to St Bernadette’s and he decided that I should only be involved in Religious Education. I felt the Spirit calling me to Pastoral Ministry. I left the parish and became a Board Certified Chaplain with NACC. Upon completion of these studies I became full time chaplain at NE Sinai Hospital in Stoughton for 25 years. The hospital treats those with short- and long-term rehabilitation needs and I have the honor of helping them deal with critical illness and end-of-life journeys. Some patients and staff became like family to me. I still continue in this ministry though on a part-time basis.

I have a strong interest in social justice, and am a member ofBread for the World, Women Ordination Conference, Call to Action, Pax Christi, and Future Church.

St Julie often said: Our idea of God's goodness is never comprehensive enough. It must make our hearts as wide as the world. I had the privilege of participating in our Pilgrimage to Namur in summer 2019 with many of the 60 year Jubilarians worldwide. I loved sharing this experience with them. While visiting Julie’s childhood church St Eloi, I noticed right away the very large statue of the Sacred Heart with his arms wide open, embracing the world. Immediately it came to me that this is where Julie first imagined one of my favorite quotes from her, thus incorporating it into our spirituality.

Being near the ocean delights my heart and soul! This is where I feel most at home reflecting on the goodness and beauty of God. The expanse of the ocean reminds me that my heart must be as wide as the world! It also reminds me that my Mom’s (who was born on the Beara Peninsula Co Cork Ireland) Celtic Spirit is with me always! Siochain!



Ascension School, Worcester, MA
St. Mark School, Dorchester, MA
Julie Country Day School, Leominster, MA
St. Mary School, Beverly, MA
St. Augustine School, Lawrence, MA

Pastoral Ministry

St. Monica Parish, Tucson, AZ
St. Bernadette Parish, Randolph, MA
New England Sinai Hospital, Stoughton, MA