Biographies

Sister Jean Mundy, MM

Born: February 28, 1905
Entered: September 24, 1924
Died: August 17, 1981

On August 17, 1981, at 7:00 p.m., God called Sister Jean Mundy to her eternal home after seventy-six years of witnessing to his love. Recently, failing health necessitated her return to The Center in New York. On the door of her room she had a poster which expressed her conviction: “God never closes a door without opening another.”

Jane Elizabeth Mundy was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania on the 28th of February, 1905, the fourth of twelve children to Joseph F. Mundy and Margaret Wallace Mundy. When Jane (always affectionately called “Jean” by her family), was still in grade school, the family moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, where she attended St. Stephen’s grammar and high school. Here she also became active in the parish as a member of the Sodality of Mary, and of the Blessed Sacrament Reading Circle.

In 1924, Jean Mundy applied to join the Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic (Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic) to become a religious sister that she “might do God’s will” Her parish priest recommended her as “one of the very best.”

She entered Maryknoll on September 24, 1924 and at Reception was given her religious name “Sister Mary Adrienne”. She made her first profession on April 30, 1927. In that same year (1927) she was one of the first group of 10 Maryknoll missionaries assigned to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. For the next 54 years, with the exception of a short period in Los Angeles, the islands were her home. She taught school for 40 years on the islands of Maui and Oahu until her health made it imperative for her to change her work. This change, however, did not lessen the intensity of her activities. In her new apostolate – as in her previous one – she was the friend of children and God’s little people, for all of whom she had always expressed a loving preference.

She believed that whoever has a heart full of love always has something to give. Her life radiated that belief. It was a life full of giving and loving in a spirit of joy.

She is fondly remembered by her students, especially those who are now Maryknoll Sisters, as one who communicated to them the love of God and His love for every single person. Her co-workers remember her as one “people knew they could count on to be there when needed.” Her time and everything she had were available to all. Others remember her as a great teacher, Adlerian family counsellor, community aide, VISTA supervisor, and a much loved supporter of the community around her – one who served quietly and selflessly.

Sister Jean Mundy welcomed the changes in the Church that emerged from Vatican II and endeavored to integrate those changes into her life. In many ways she was a woman whose vision extended beyond the ordinary confines of religious life at that time – a woman ahead of her times. Her deep faith and conviction were a source of constant strength.

Sister Jean had so much wanted to live and die among the Hawaiians and God, in His own way, granted her this wish, because two Sisters from the islands, Sister Cecelia Santos, M.M., and Cecelia’s sister, Dorothy Santos, a religious of the Sacred Heart, were with Sister Jean when she died. They had happily been sharing reminiscences of former students and friends, and the Sisters had sung one of her favorite Hawaiian songs. At the completion of the song, Sister Jean had told them about the gentleman on the plane with her when she returned recently to New York and who had asked: “how many children do you have?” “ And Sister Jean, after a short deliberation, had answered: “oh, about 1800!” As she finished her recollection of that encounter, she leaned back on her pillow and died. These last words reveal how she really thought and felt. All the children she had ever cared for during her were, indeed, hers.

We, her Maryknoll family, wish to express our sympathy and love to all of Sister’s family. Let us give thanks today for the fullness of Sister Jean’s life and what she has meant for each of us. We shall all miss her.

“When she is here, that is good;
When she is not here,
Her goodness stays with us.”

The main celebrant of the Eucharistic Liturgy is Maryknoll Father Francis J. Winslow, friend of many Maryknoll Sisters, and a long-time friend of the Mundy Family. Father is also from Sister Jean’s home parish in Framingham, Massachusetts.