Biographies

Sister M. Raphael Harrington, MM

Born: July 9, 1889
Entered: May 12, 1920
Died: October 30, 1977

Today, we pray God our Father, for His daughter Mary Raphael Harrington. We ask that He remove from her the sorrows which formed the fabric of her life that He clothe her with justice and crown her with joy and glory. We ask that He let her face shine with the splendor of the beauty of His Son; that He let her face smile with the joyous surprise of His presence. We ask that He give her, as escort for her journey, the Angel Raphael, her namesake, to lead her as he once led Tobias and Sarah in the Old Testament to happiness and life.

A joyous peace and hope should be ours today as we gather as a Community to pay our last respects to Sister M. Raphael Harrington, who spent 57 of her 89 years within the Maryknoll Family.

During the course of 1977 we have, more than in any other year of our history, been aware of the Angel of Death in our midst. Our faith recalls to us that this Angel is also the Angel of Life. It is Jesus Who is among us.

It is fitting today that we should speak of Angels because Sister Raphael, who received her name from Mother Mary Joseph, is among the few “Archangels” left among us within the Maryknoll Family.

Rose Virginia Harrington was born on July 9, 1889 in Oakland, California. She entered Maryknoll at the age of 31 on May 12, 1920, when Maryknoll was very young. She made her first profession on August 4, 1922. In 1924, she went to Hong Kong. She made her final vows in Kowloon on August 4, 1925. From Hong Kong, Sister went to the Philippines where she worked at St. Paul’s Hospital in Manila, Malabon, Baguio and St. Mary’s Hall. She served as housekeeper for Archbishop O’Doherty in Manila. This Irish prelate had a reputation for being exceptionally difficult to work for. Sister Raphael was equal to the challenge! The two of them got along famously. She served him faithfully and devotedly for six years.

Sister had a beautiful voice, professionally trained, and it was always her delight to entertain her Sisters with a song as long as she was able.

In 1938 Sister Raphael was recalled to the Motherhouse in New York. From 1942 until 1952, Sister was assigned to California, where she served the Sisters by being in charge of the kitchens. She spent 1952 to 1960 in New York, then again returned to California. In 1968 many changes began to take place within the Community and Sister found these very difficult. She would have liked time to stop so that her beloved Maryknoll would always be the same. In 1972 Sister came to Bethany. On the morning of Sunday, October 30, 1977, Sister became very ill. She was taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital where she died at 5:05 p.m. While still fully conscious a priest from a neighboring parish gave her the last anointing — in the old rite, applying the oil to all the senses and all in Latin! The Lord was being gracious to the end and respecting her reluctance to change.

Each Maryknoll Sister local community is requested to have a Eucharistic Celebration offered for the repose of the soul of Sister Raphael. Here at the Center, the Mass of the Resurrection will be offered on November 2nd, 1977 at 11:00 a.m.

When Raphael revealed his identity to Tobias and his family, he said, “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the glory of the Lord” (Tob. 12:15). May our Sister Raphael, having experienced the love of her Community, the mercy and justice of God, now “enter and serve eternally before the glory of her Lord.”