Sister Anna Mary Lennon, MM

Born: September 4, 1921
Entered: September 6, 1944
Died: November 5, 1998

This morning, with hearts full of gratitude, we meet to celebrate the life of Sister Anna Mary Lennon who now enjoys life in its fullness. Sister Anna Mary was called to God in the General Hospital of Arequipa, Peru, Thursday, November 5,1998 at 2:30 a.m. She was 77 years of age.

Catherine Margaret Lennon was born September 4, 1921 in New York City, New York, to John Lennon and Anna Horan Lennon. Catherine Margaret had two brothers, Francis and John, and two sisters, Elizabeth and Anna May. The family attended St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in New York City and it was there that she first knew and loved the Dominican family of which Maryknoll Sisters are a part. Catherine Margaret grew up surrounded by faith and love in a very united family. She frequently commented, “I feel sorry for persons who don’t have sisters/brothers,” so great was the love within the family.

Catherine Margaret received her primary education at St. Vincent Ferrer parish school in New York City and her secondary education at Cathedral High School, also in New York. Upon graduation she attended Grace Institute to acquire business skills and did clerical work for four years before entering the Maryknoll Sisters on September 6, 1944. At Reception, she received the name of Sister Anna Mary, the name she retained throughout her religious life.

On March 7, 1947, Sister Anna Mary made her First Vows at Maryknoll, New York and immediately was given charge of the Motherhouse laundry. Throughout her 54 years of religious life, her adaptability was evident in her enthusiastic response to any assignment given her. In 1948, Sister studied dietetics and the following year, after a brief stay at Monrovia, was assigned to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It was in Kandy, Ceylon, on March 7, 1950, that Sister made her Final Vows. Her mission there gave her an abiding love for the people of Ceylon and all of Asia.

In 1960, Sister Anna Mary returned to the Center to be in charge of the kitchen. Two years later she began work in the personnel office of the Maryknoll Society to which she dedicated four years. In 1966, she did promotion work and, in 1967, began nursing studies at the Westchester School of Nursing where she received her R.N. and New York license in 1970. Following graduation, Sister Anna Mary dedicated her life’s energies and love as nurse on night duty, caring for the aged and sick Sisters at Bethany, for eight years. She often mentioned what a privilege it was to be with the Sisters at this time. She is remembered as a kind and capable nurse, a down-to-earth and practical person, compassionate and patient with those she served selflessly.

Sister Anna Mary arrived in Peru in 1979 and did pastoral and health work in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Cerro Colorado, Arequippa. In 1983 the Sisters became involved in work with families and established the Centro de Orientacion Familiar (CORFAM) under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Arequipa promoting the Natural Family Planning, the Billings Ovulation Method. Here, Sister Anna Mary worked quietly contributing to the promotion and development of the Center. Her presence and support empowered others to develop their talents and realize the objectives of the work. She was involved in this apostolate when the Lord called her home.

In 1985 when asked to share her ideas of mission, Sister Anna Mary wrote, “awareness of God’s presence and love in our lives and work.” She added quite simply that she was “grateful to be a small cog in the big wheel, acknowledging in all humility that the big wheel wouldn’t function as well without the small cog.” Of community life she wrote, “a simple life of work, prayers, and sharing based on mutual understanding and pardon.”

Sister Anna Mary communicated with her heart. Spanish was a challenge for her but she knew how to transform this difficulty, with tenderness, into eloquent speech. Her smile expressed everything! She had a great spirit of hospitality and warmth for everyone. Those who had the good fortune of knowing her were struck by the twinkle of mischief in her eyes and her sense of humor. Sister Anna Mary was sensitive to the sacrifices made by so many women to raise their children. She would say, “Heaven must be full of mothers.”

All of us are witnesses to the love and interest Sister Anna Mary had for her patients – the parishioners, the people in the shops and market, all whom she met as she walked down the street. With her smile she encouraged all. Sister Anna Mary had no fear of death. She was fond of saying, “Is it not for this that we live – to encounter Christ?” She had strong and profound faith.

We wish to express our sincere condolences to Anna Mary’s family members and friends and to all with whom Sister shared her journey. May Sister Anna Mary’s generosity, simplicity and joyful spirit continue to bear fruit among us.

Mass of Christian Burial was at the Sacred Heart Sisters Chapel in Umacollo, Arequipa, Peru, and burial in the Maryknoll Society’s Mausoleum, also in Arequipa, Peru.