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Sister Kathleen Fagan, RSHM

by RSHM Eastern American AreaCategory: Obituaries10 Comments

woman with short blonde/gray hair in brown suit jacket and brown scoop neck shirt

Sister Kathleen (Sr. de Bon Conseil) Fagan, RSHM, died peacefully at Marymount Convent, Tarrytown, NY, on Wednesday, September 25, 2023. She was 82 years of age and had been a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary for 62 years.

She was born in Brooklyn, NY, on July 12, 1941, the last of five children born to Thomas F. and Helen Dowd Fagan.

After graduating from Marymount School of New York, New York City, she entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary at the RSHM Novitiate in Tarrytown, NY, on September 8, 1959. She made her first vows on June 29, 1961, in Tarrytown, where she also made her final vows on June 29, 1966.

Sister Kathleen remained in Tarrytown at Marymount College, after making her first vows, to complete her BA in English.

Her first ministry was in England, teaching elementary school students at Marymount International School, London (1963-1965). Her next assignment was to Sag Harbor, NY, where she taught in the high school at the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Mary (1965-1968).

She studied at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, where she earned an MA in English (1968-1969).

Sister Kathleen taught English at Marymount School of New York (1969-1972) before becoming head of the Upper School (1972-1976). She was named Headmistress in 1976, a position she held for 28 years (1976-2004).

During her time as Headmistress, the school experienced extensive expansion in size and program. A rooftop gymnasium was added, one of many renovations to the original 5th Avenue building. These included new science laboratories, art rooms, and technology laboratories. Sister Kathleen spearheaded the school’s expansion to the 82nd Street campus, to accommodate the growing student body and academic program. After leaving the school, Sister Kathleen remained deeply connected to Marymount School of New York as Trustee Emerita and a mentor for trustees and administrators.  

Sister Kathleen returned to Marymount International School, London, England where she had begun her lifelong ministry in education. She was Headmistress of the school from 2005 to 2009.

She moved back to New York when she was appointed Provincial Superior of the Eastern American Province (2009-2015).

Sister Kathleen’s commitment to education extended beyond the school building. She was a member of the Fordham University Board of Trustees and served on the Marymount-Fordham consolidation board. She was a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools Accreditation Commission and active in many organizations that promoted education.

Sister Kathleen moved to Marymount Convent, Tarrytown, NY in 2018 and was a member of the Convent community at the time of her death.

Sister Kathleen is predeceased by her parents and her brothers, Monsignor R. Emmet Fagan and Msgr. John T. Fagan,and her sister, Helen Marie Fagan Murphy. She is survived by her sister, Jane Fagan Fucigna, and her nieces and nephews, and by the members of her religious family.   

Services are at Marymount Convent, 32 Warren Avenue, Tarrytown, NY. Visiting is on Monday, October 2, 2023, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm with the Vigil Service at 7:00 pm. Mass of Christian Burial is on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, at 10:30 am—burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery, White Plains.

We invite you to join us for the Vigil Service and Mass at Marymount Convent or by live-stream on our website (, where they will be archived.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in her name may be made to Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, 50 Wilson Park Drive, Tarrytown, NY, 10591.

10 thoughts on “Sister Kathleen Fagan, RSHM”

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    Sister Kathleen’s vibrant presence, her fierce commitment to the education of girls and her tireless dedication to Marymount School inspired and energized those of us who had the great privilege to be part of the faculty during her time as Headmistress.

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    On behalf of the O Halloran family of the late Sr Ann O Halloran RSHM I wish to convey our sympathy to the Fagan family on the death of Kathy who was a great friend to our beloved sister.
    Ar eis De go raibh hanam.
    Rosemary O Halloran

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    Kathy and I were best friends when we were at Marymount together. She was a joyous, creative, totally loving person as a young high school student and that only increased as she served the school and church she loved.
    I cannot imagine what it will take to replace her.
    I am so sad that she is no longer among us.
    Mary Rooney (La Rosa) in high school.

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    Kathy and I served on the boards of Marymount and then Fordham for many years. She had it all— intelligence, a wonderful sense of humor, vibrancy, love of life and everyone around her. She stood for all that is good and her legacy will live on. We will miss her but we will always remember her smile and sparkling eyes and know that the road ahead is clear.
    I too am sad about this loss and my prayers and thoughts are with family, friends and so many others who will feel Kathleen’s loss.
    Carolyn Nannini Dolan

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    I was privileged to work at Marymount School under Sr Kathleen’s leadership for many years. As with many others, she took a chance in hiring me, seeing qualities I wasn’t sure I had. She was truly visionary in the education of girls and young women.

    I recall she was relentless in her quest for excellence in writing and communication, and I can now fondly remember the many edits and revisions she demanded in any reports, letters or speeches we gave to parents.

    I visited her two years ago in Tarrytown and found there the same intelligent, caring, and fun-loving woman I had worked with. I will always be indebted to her.

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    I was so saddened to hear of Sr. Kathleen’s passing. I will never forget her warm, joyful, visionary spirit. It was as if there was always a twinkle in her eye at all times and I know she loved to laugh. Sr Kathleen hired me as the new Religious Studies teacher at MMI London which meant I was able to leave State Secondary boys education at last! It was thanks to Sr. Kathleen that I can honestly say I had the best of my teaching years- they were magical times. Sr. Kathleen taught me how to be a woman of grace and decisiveness but also with a lovely humanity. She had so much faith in all she did, enormous as many of the tasks must have been. She really followed Divine guidance by listening within to the still, small, voice. Thank you Sr. Kathleen, for everything! I hope you will continue to open the right doors for all of us who have been so blessed to know you and the RSHM in our lives. Thank you for believing in me Sr. Kathleen! RIP xx

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    Strong Brooklyn roots, broad international vision and understanding. A woman of many talents and strong faith.
    Sr. Kathleen Fagan dedicated her life and energy to the interests of family, friends, community, students, the needs of the Church and the world.
    Sr. Kathleen brought that energy to a particular focus on the life and works of the RSHM community, its works of education and development of young women, an understanding of human life well lived, in her students and in all those with whom she worked and interacted.

    Kathleen’s energies never waned. She was always ready to undertake new projects, new aspects of life, and she brought to each a wonderful sense of humor, a light touch that made any undertaking seem possible. She encouraged us all to see the likely outcome in terms of success and if a project did not immediately appear successful, there was the opportunity to review, revise, continue, always with optimism and positive energy.

    Thank you, Kathleen, for your “owl” sense of wisdom and your “star” light that has enlightened us and for your vibrant presence to all of us!

    RIP Ad Vitam Aternam. That All May Have Life!

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      A beautiful tribute to Kathy Fagan (whom I will always recall as Kathy since she was a senior when I a freshman at Fifth Avenue) – However you are always Sister Timothy to me and I was so happy to see your post – will you be at the mass at St. Ignatius on the All Saints Day – Hope you are well.

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    I was saddened to read of Sister Kathleen’s passing.
    I was privileged to work alongside her as a parent at Marymount London.
    Her faith, strength, vibrancy and ‘can do’ attitude inspired many Marymount girls not only to reach their goals but to surpass them.
    She was a force of nature! She will be truly missed but my memory is strong.

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