Biographies

Sister Maria Ynez Cavagnaro, MM

Born: January 28, 1895
Entered: April 26, 1925
Died: April 21, 1969

Sister Helen Scheel telephoned from Monrovia early Tuesday morning, April 22, to give us the news of Sister Ynez’s death at Notre Dame Hospital in San Francisco the previous night. Sister Margaret Virginia Rust, whose day-to-day thoughtfulness and attention brought comfort to Sister in her long illness, was at her side when life ebbed away.

Sister Maria Ynez (Priscilla Cavagnaro) was born in San Francisco, January 28, 1895. Her educational background was quite unusual for a young lady of her time. She studied law and romance languages at the University of California Berkeley where in 1920 she was awarded an A.B. degree in law. Priscilla was well known and loved in college circles, and surprised many friends by entering Carmel at Santa Clara, California, in July 1921. She was professed at Carmel on April 19, 1923. Carmelites, who knew of Maryknoll’s beginnings had great love for our congregation, and supported Father James Anthony Walsh by their prayers and sacrifice. A seed of interest in Maryknoll and the missions flourished in the soul of the professed Carmelite Novice, then Sister Christine, who with the advice and consent of her superiors asked to transfer to Maryknoll. This petition was granted, and Sister Christine came to Maryknoll on April 26, 1925 and was received as a novice taking the name of Sister Maria Ynez. She was professed April 30, 1926.

Hong Kong was Sister’s first mission assignment. Her main duty there was teaching private pupils. She was happy in her work and said that she tried her hand at everything that turned up – trusting to the Lord and His Mother.

With this same trust Sister accepted future assignments; to Los Altos in 1930; to Hawaii in 1935; back to Los Altos in 1942; to the Motherhouse and Bethany until her assignment to Puno, Peru in 1964. After three years in the altiplano of Peru, she returned to the United States. Sister helped out at Rosary Convent in Chicago until that house closed, when she returned to her beloved California in the spring of 1968. Within a few months her illness began to take its toll, and it was evident she was losing ground day by day. Sister’s life had been well spent and she lived for this day, when she would see God face to face.