Mercy Sister Katherine Cairone, formerly Sister Mary Antonia,age 79, was the second child of Anthony R. and Katherine Gross, both deceased. Sister Kathy was born October 6, 1942 in East Orange, New Jersey, and attended St. Thomas Elementary School in Bloomfield, NJ and Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, NJ. After receiving her B.A. in Mathematics from Georgian Court University (then College) shebegan her teaching career at St. Rose High School, Belmar, NJ.
On September 8, 1965, Sister Kathy entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy at Mount Saint Mary in Watchung, NJ. She began her teaching career at Mount Saint Mary Academy while still in the Novitiate, and at age 27, while busy fulfilling her lifelong dream to be a teacher, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And, although the illness began to severely affect her, she was still able to minister as a teacher in Cathedral High School and then Grammar School in Trenton, Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, St. James High School in Red Bank, and Collier School in Wickatunk, all in New Jersey. Eventually, multiple sclerosis wracked her entire body and she was diagnosed as a “medical” quadriplegic. In 1986 Sister Kathy became a resident at McAuley Hall Health Care Center where she resided until her death on August 31, 2022.
Because of her physical condition, Sister Kathy initially had to be transported to all her activities, including meals and daily prayers. But thanks to the fund-raising efforts of business executive Lou Del Castillo, who is now deceased, a state-of-the-art wheelchair, which was maneuvered by the direction of her chin, was purchased for her use. After that, Sister Kathy was able to travel around the facility on her own, giving her the independence which she had lacked for so long, and enhanced the quality of her life. Del Castillo also helped raise funds to purchase a voice-activated computer for her, and that opened up a world of opportunities.
Sister Kathy, having never painted before, began Mouth Painting in 1991. Her media has been oils, acrylics and watercolors. Sister’s paintings have included the Twin Towers, landscapes and still life. Her works have been shown at exhibits and she has won and placed in many artistic contests. Her time with art provided her with many opportunities for creativity and accomplishment.
Sister Kathy, who is survived by her brother, Rev. A. Robert Cairone and many loving cousins, will be remembered for her vibrant spirit and great sense of humor.
Funeral arrangements are as follows: Immaculate Conception Chapel, Mount Saint Mary, Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Wake: 9:00 to 11:00 AM; Welcome Home Service 10:30 AM. Funeral Mass: 11:00 AM. Sister will be buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Mays Landing, NJ on September 7.
Donations may be made to the Sisters of Mercy, 1645 US Highway 22, Watchung, NJ 07069.