Sister of Charity dies with a building named after her

by | Mar 21, 2014 | Sisters of Charity, Vincentian Family | 1 comment

In these days when we celebrate the way nuns touched peoples lives it is sadly fitting to celebrate the passing of a legend, Sr. Miriam Thomas, SC. Her main concern was always “How can I help these people?”

Sister Miriam Thomas stayed to rebuild the South Bronx when it was down and out in the 1970s. She passed away Thursday

 The New York News celebrates her memory with the following article.

Sister Miriam Thomas, the beloved nun who helped rebuild the South Bronx after it was “burning,” has died.

Sister Thomas passed away Thursday from natural causes at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, Sister Eileen McGrory confirmed to The News. She was 80.

“She’s an absolute legend,” said McGrory, who had known the nun since 1957. “Her main concern was always, ‘How can I help these people?’”

Brooklyn-born Sister Thomas joined the Sisters of Charity of New York in 1951 after graduating high school. She taught for almost a decade in Manhattan before spending a summer in Puerto Rico where she learned Spanish. In 1962, she taught at St. Athanasius School on Southern Boulevard, where she remained until a year before her death, according to McGrory.


Sister Thomas S.C. is photographed in front of building named after her at 870 Southern Blvd. in the South Bronx.

In 1968, Sister Thomas co-founded the South East Bronx Community Organization, which would later build a 105-unit affordable housing development on the South Bronx’s last parcel of city-owned land and named it in her honor.

“Sister Thomas was a mentor, a critic, an inspiration and a friend,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, who described the nun as the most influential women in the South Bronx. “The Bronx has a heavy heart today.”

The longtime Community Board 2 member stayed in service to the South Bronx even when it was down and out in the 1970s.

“When they said the Bronx was burning, she was one of the people who stayed and looked out for those that were here,” Community Board 2 District Manager Rafael Salamanca said.


Sister Thomas S.C. Apartment Building at 870 Southern Boulevard. Peter Cantillo, President, SEBCO, Housing Development, Management Security at 885 Bruckner Blvd. Bronx, NY.

In an interview with the Daily News in 2011, Sister Thomas left little to the imagination as to what it was like then.

“There were waves of destruction, waves of violence,” she said. “So many good people stayed and supported us.”

Funeral arrangements have not been made, but nuns and local leaders are in the midst of planning a memorial service.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) said Sister Thomas’ faith both in God and her community could move mountains.

“She was involved in every aspect of community life,” said Serrano. “Serving on boards, feeding the hungry, helping to build and find housing for the homeless and [the] giving of herself to all members of our community.”

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1 Comment

  1. Elena Miranda

    As NY Times Sidestreet columnist David Gonzalez tweeted, “Sister Thomas, #RIP. A beloved force for good in #HuntsPoint #Longwood #SouthBronx. #Catholic @scny1

    Funeral Services as follows:
    WAKE: Convent of Mary the Queen, Yonkers, Saturday, March 22nd, 2:30 to 8:00 PM, Vigil Service at 6:30 PM
    She will then be transferred and waked at:
    Saint Athanasius Church, 878 Tiffany Street, Bronx, NY 10459, Sunday, March 23, 2014, 3:00 to 8:00 PM, Prayer Service @ 5:30 PM

    MASS: Saint Athanasius Church, Monday, March 24, 2014, 10:30 AM

    BURIAL: Saint Joseph Cemetery, Yonkers

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