Mary Ann Deak

Mary Ann Deak

December 20, 1948 – January 15, 2024

Mary Ann Deak was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 20, 1948; and entered Eternal Life on Monday, January 15, 2024.  She is predeceased by her parents, William and Rose Ann Deak.  She is survived by her brother, Joseph Deak, her nephew, Aleksandor Nagy-Deak, her niece Lily (Nagy-Deak) Solochek, and her sister-by-choice, Michaela Johnson.  Mary Ann was commissioned as a Lay Pastoral Minister, and spent her life serving the Catholic Church in many capacities.  She moved from the Washington DC area to Omaha in 2018.

Mary Ann graduated from Edgecliff College with a BA in History in 1970. Shortly after leaving college, while volunteering as a counselor at a Catholic Girls Summer Camp, she attended a Mass where she “heard a call” to serve the Church.  She entered the Glenmary Sisters, an order specifically founded to serve the poor in Appalachia; but after 1-1/2 years, discerned that this was not her vocation.  Later, in the 1970s, she volunteered in the Goose Creek Bible School in Clay County, KY.  Sponsored by St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Manchester, KY, the program brought together college-age kids who drove down one weekend a month to provide a bible school for the children.   Mary Ann wrote music for the children to sing and helped with planning the lessons.  She eventually discerned a call to live in Manchester, working at a newspaper, typesetting and writing articles, while volunteering for the local parish.

She decided that rather than volunteering, she was called to offer her services in professional ministry.  She returned to school and completed an MA in Religion in 1983 from the Anthenaeum of Ohio.  At the same time, she completed the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, taking classes along with those preparing for the permanent diaconate; and was commissioned as a Lay Minister in 1983 as well.  She worked as the Director of Religious Education focusing on children’s formation at two parishes in Cincinnati.

In 1991, she moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, to take the position of Director of Religious Education at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church where she served for 5 years.  She worked with other staff members to incorporate children in the liturgical life and outreach services of the parish.  As the DRE she developed a Family-based Religious Formation program for children; she built strong mentoring relationships with volunteer catechists, empowering the development of formation materials used for Liturgy of the Word for Children, and the summer Vacation Bible School.  She also directed the children’s Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) program.

In 1994, she left paid ministry, but she never actually left ministry.  At St. Rose, she was a member of the Core Team for the RCIA for 20 years, serving as a catechist and retreat leader.  She also co-led a 36-week JustFaith program focusing on social justice; served in children’s religious formation; and in many liturgical and other ministries.

She joined Westat, a social science research firm where she worked for 19 years on programs related to Wounded Warriors satisfaction surveys, school lunch programs, and children’s health programs to name a few.

In 2018, after retiring, she moved with her life-long friend and “sister-by-choice” to Omaha, Nebraska.  Soon after, the cancer that was diagnosed in 2015 returned.  During this time, she wrote an essay about her experience with cancer, and her desire to help others with their journey.  As she had shared with friends, she didn’t look on her cancer as an outside invader to be fought – those cells were part of her that did damage for some reason. She did not “lose her fight” with cancer, because of her faith in God. Rather, she has lived heroically with cancer; and now it has taken her home to Him.

VISITATION: Thursday, January 18 from 5pm to 7pm, followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm at West Center Chapel. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Friday, January 19 at 10:30am at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 14330 Eagle Run Dr.

Interment, Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Siena Francis House, which welcomes and empowers those experiencing homelessness, or the Servants of Mary who have walked with her during her cancer journey.

To view live broadcast of the Vigil Service and Mass, please visit and click on the “Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.


  • Kay johnson Posted January 17, 2024 6:15 am

    So very sorry for the loss of Mary Ann. Love the term “sister by choice” , you two could not have made a better choice!!❤️

  • Susan Kinney Posted January 18, 2024 7:23 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss Mary Ann ….she was always so kind to me.

  • William F Derge Posted January 19, 2024 9:56 am

    Mary-Ann was one of the most cheerful people I have ever known. I had the privilege of attending the Just Faith group that she and Michaela conducted.

    • Michaela Johnson Posted February 3, 2024 5:18 pm

      Dear Bill, Mary Ann remembered well our time leading the JustFaith Group. She particularly remembered the poem and title you gave each of us at the end. You called her “Crazy-for-God”. She has asked me to put that on her headstone, which I plan to do. Thank you so much.

  • Merry Fran and Joe Quedensley Posted January 19, 2024 5:21 pm

    I am so grearful to be able to watch Mary Ann’s loving service on the computer. We could not be there in person, but I felt the spirit and love of Mary Anne in spirit. I loved her humor, I love her singing, I loved her positive disposition, that she naturaly radiated into everyone. Mary Ann was a JOY to know. God in Heaven has another Joyful Angel for us to pray with always. Peace to those who knew her. Merry Fran
    , I loved her posit

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