Biographies

Sister Joseph Marie Kane, MM

Born: March 12, 1905
Entered: October 15, 1927
Died: January 12, 1995

On the evening of January 12, 1995, Sister Joseph Marie Kane quietly passed from this life to attain eternal rest with her loving God.

Dorothy Catherine Kane was born on March 12, 1905 to Joseph and Dora McKenna Kane in St. Louis, Missouri. Dorothy was the only daughter in the family and had three brothers who have preceded her in death. After attending grade school in Pittsfield, Illinois, Dorothy graduated from St. Elizabeth’s Academy in St. Louis. Dorothy then attended Mt. St. Joseph’s College in Mt. St. Joseph, Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Home Economics.

The summer before her Senior year at college, Dorothy and two other classmates went to the diocese of Covington, Kentucky to do tutoring and catechetical work in the isolated mission of St. Theresa in Lee County. The experience was difficult and there were many hardships, but the three young women were very happy to be of assistance to the children and their families in this their first experience of mission.

After graduation from college in 1927, Dorothy and one of her classmates entered Maryknoll. Her companion was the fixture Sister David Marie Scanlon. Dorothy’s father wrote these words to Mother Mary Joseph at the time of her entrance: “It is my fondest desire and my prayer that my daughter, of whom it is needless to say I am very fond, shall be as happy as can reasonably be expected in this world, and that she will become a useful member of your community.”

After First Profession in 1930, Sister Joseph Marie was assigned to Kowloon, Hong Kong where she taught until 1937. From there she moved to Holy Spirit and Maryknoll Convent Schools until 1941, at which time she was interned at Stanley House for eight months during the war. In August 1942 she was repatriated to the U.S. on the Gripsholm. In later years Sister spoke of this time as one where despite the suffering and deprivations she was happy to be able to teach children in the camp and to assist the other prisoners in many ways. She summed up those eight months with these words: “That experience of internment helped me to treasure freedom in a new way.”

After attending the New York Institute of Dietetics in 1943, Sister Joseph Marie was assigned to Wailuku on Maui to teach English and Home Economics. Sister always preferred to teach sewing rather than cooking, but her students were very much appreciated for their culinary skills especially at the annual banquet they prepared for the school faculty.

In 1956 she moved to Punahou and taught until 1971 when she retired from the classroom. To this day she has received letters from former students expressing their sincere gratitude to her for how well she prepared them for life in so many different ways, in addition to the English and Home Economics she taught. Some of the students she encouraged to obtain scholarships to continue their studies, and to others she offered guidance and an understanding heart during their years of school.

After leaving the classroom, Sister continued to tutor students in English and again, her students felt they acquired excellent English skills along with many other gifts she shared with them. Mr. Sato, a Japanese businessman who learned the basics of English from Sister, showed his gratitude to her through years of correspondence and always included a family picture in his annual Christmas letter.

All of Sister Joseph Marie’s friends who had lived with her over the years spoke of her as a wonderful community person and she is fondly remembered for her great sense of humor and her love of a good party.

In 1977, Sister Joseph Marie celebrated her Golden Jubilee, first by returning with Sisters David Marie Scanlon and Mary Ann Fuchs to Mt. St. Joseph’s College for a class reunion. This trip was made possible through the generosity of their classmates. After a great time of reminiscing at Mt. St. Joseph’s, Sisters Joseph Marie and David Marie then came to Maryknoll to celebrate their Golden Jubilee with their group here.

Sister Joseph Marie retired to Monrovia in 1979 and spent much of her time visiting the sick in Nursing Homes and hospitals. Sister had great gifts for comforting others and sharing prayer with each one she visited. In 1982, Sister returned to the Center where she continued to visit the Sisters in Skilled Nursing, writing letters and doing other favors for them. On many an afternoon she was seen visiting and doing speech therapy with her long-time friend, Sister Catherine Lawlor.

In 1985 Sister needed more assistance she was moved to Skilled Nursing. Now her friends would be the ones to visit and comfort her. Sister Margaret Hart faithfully did all her correspondence so that Sister Joseph Marie continued to receive letters from all over the world from her former students, friends and her family. A lovely statue of St. Joseph was always at her bedside, a gift from her students in the class of 1961. The statue now stands in the chapel where Sister so often assisted at Liturgy and spent time in prayer.

And so as we gather to celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection for Sister Joseph Marie, we thank God for the gift of her life to all of us in Maryknoll and to celebrate her going home to God. We offer our sincere sympathy to Sister’s family who we are very happy to have with us today. We also welcome our brother, Maryknoll Father Joseph Veneroso, as celebrant of our Liturgy of Resurrection.