"All the gifts she brought with her in her service are gifts people will lose now that she's gone," said Deacon James Murphy before Tuesday night's prayer service in Syosset in memory of Sister Jacqueline Walsh.
The hundreds of parishioners that attended the ceremony were still shaken after news that the beloved Sister Jackie, 59, was Monday night while on retreat in Water Mill.
"Jackie had a phenomenal smile and a great laugh," remembered Murphy. "The immediate effect of losing someone like Jackie can be very difficult for a parish."
Sister Jackie was born and raised in Brooklyn before her family moved to Long Island, according Murphy. Twenty-five years ago, she joined the Sisters of Mercy, whose mission focuses on aiding the sick, poor and uneducated. She found her place in Syosset at St. Edward the Confessor 10 years ago and was a pastoral associate until her death.
"In her selfless dedication she was always trying to make things better for
somebody else," said Sen. Carl Marcellino, recalling her combination of integrity, distinction, and grace in her service to the church. "She will be sorely missed."
Lives that were touched by Sister Jackie span different age groups and walks of life, as her work as a Sister of Mercy demonstrated. From taking trips to Splish Splash water park with St. Edward's children, to guiding newcomers to the Catholic Church through a year-long educational program, to helping those in financial need to get food and clothing, Sister Jackie's life was lived as a model Sister of Mercy.
After recovering from an undisclosed illness, according to the May St. Edward's School Board meeting minutes, Sister Jackie made it to an annual retreat with fellow Sisters of Mercy and was due to return Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, police were still searching for the man that struck her and left the scene.
"Because she was a Sister of Mercy, she would want to see mercy extended to the individual who took her life," Murphy said, adding "She would want us to pray for this individual to give them the courage to come forward, acknowledge what they did, and begin to heal."
A wake for Sister Jacqueline "Jackie" Walsh will be held Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. in 's Holy Family Room. Her funeral is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Edward the Confessor Church.