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Judith (John Eileen) Dowd, IHM

Sister Judith Dowd, IHM, 87, died Saturday, December 2, at home at the IHM Senior Living Community.

One of two daughters of John and Eileen (Herley) Dowd, Judith Ann was born and baptized on Oct. 21, 1936, at Providence Hospital, Detroit. As parishioners of St. Bartholomew, the daughters attended the grade school. Judith also attended Precious Blood and graduated from Immaculata High School. Already familiar with IHM Sisters as aunt, cousin and teachers, Judith enrolled at Marygrove College (operated by IHM Sisters) in 1954. By the end of that first year, she was committed to entering the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, and did so in September 1955. She received the religious name Sister John Eileen.  

Sister Judy, as she was known, had a love for young children and found her best teaching experiences in those ministries. Her heart desired to “walk with the little and the poor.” Assuredly, the young students greatly benefitted from her gifts and the elderly and infirm that received her care. After completing studies for her bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College, she taught in formal education for 32 years at St. Patrick, Carleton, All Saints, Detroit; St. Mary, Marshall; St. Joseph, Trenton; St. Patrick, Wyandotte and Monroe; and many years at St. Bede, Southfield, and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Birmingham. Sister Judy enjoyed teaching her young students, was very conscientious in lesson planning and was recognized for her ease of manner, which brought out genuine interest in the students.

After years of teaching, Sister Judy transitioned to focusing ministry with the elderly and infirm. She became a one-woman service and word of mouth across parishes kept her busy. Her love of hobbies, such as gardening, cooking, music and reading, added greatly to her ministry to all. She once recalled “the best summer” of service as running the Motherhouse kitchen with the bounty of St. Mary Farm! Sister Judy “took care” of the minds, hearts and health of many people in homes across Detroit and Bloomfield Hills from her residence, the convent of Marian High School.  

With 20-plus years of service to the ill and homebound, age-associated health concerns led Sister Judy to reduce her ministry and move to the Motherhouse. Her lovely spirit and sense of fun and enjoyment were well received by residents and staff.  

Sister Judith is survived by her sister Mary Margaret McPhee, nieces and nephews and her sisters in community.  

Read Sister Judy’s Remembering.