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Obituary: Joan M. Mooney, active Catholic laywoman, philanthropist


Joan M. Mooney Courtesy photo

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Joan Marie Mooney was an extraordinary member of our Catholic Community, said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, who was the principal celebrant at Joan's funeral Mass earlier this summer.

In his eulogy, Father Charles Higgins, pastor of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton, said Mooney, "epitomized Christian graciousness... She had an incisive mind, and she used her gifts of perception and intellect to understand more deeply. She was a model of striving to make sound judgments, while always making sure that charity had the last word."

Born on June 15, 1929 in New York City, Joan Marie Daly earned two cum laude degrees, undergraduate from Marymount College ('49) and a graduate degree from Fordham University ('51). Under her Marymount yearbook picture, it read, "Joan -- beautiful, charming, brilliant... and matter-of-fact."

She was all those things. During the early 1960s, she served as a manager of employment at NBC in New York, at a time when few women worked in network television.

When she married James F. Mooney Jr. in 1966, she moved to Massachusetts and began a vigorous tradition of service and philanthropy, inspiring her family to do the same. Mr. Mooney has served as president of the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of Boston, as a member of the finance council, a board member of the Clergy Fund, and as a trustee of the Catholic Schools Foundation.

Mooney was among the first group of women to be installed as a Dame of the Order of Malta, making a commitment to benefaction intertwined with the teaching of the truths of the Faith and the care of the sick and the poor.

Her example strongly influenced her son, Jim III, a partner at the Baupost Group, a private investment firm in Boston. He is a longtime board member of Boston's Catholic Schools Foundation, which provides financial assistance for Catholic primary and high school educations, as well as trustee of the College of the Holy Cross.

In 2004 the Mooney family established the Joan Marie Mooney Scholarship at Holy Cross to provide tuition assistance for deserving students who might otherwise be unable to attend the college.

Mooney died on July 8 at the age of 87, after a long illness. Her funeral was held in Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Church, in Newton Upper Falls, on July 12. In addition to her husband and son, she is survived by her daughter-in-law, Lisa and two grandchildren: James F. IV and Catherine R. of Wellesley Hills.

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