Sister Anne Dolores Yeager, MM

Born: January 6, 1899
Entered: December 8, 1938
Died: May 7, 1985

On May 7th, 1985, at 03:30 p.m., our Sister Anne Dolores Yeager, without any forewarning, simply and suddenly allowed the fragile life-spirit that bound her to earth to be severed and she silently slipped away from us. She was a great one for planning things ahead of time, as she liked them to be, so it would almost seem that she had chosen that lovely day in the month of Mary to go to her Creator.

Madeline Claire Yeager was born January 6, 1899. She was one of three children born to Daniel and Anna Thienel Yeager. Her parents were German immigrants who, just before the turn of the century, settled in the beautiful “Dutch Pennsylvania” countryside that Sister loved so much.

Madeline Claire attended St. Sophie’ s Grammar School in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, and later Divine Providence High School in Pittsburgh. In 1930 she enrolled in the School of Nursing connected to St. John’ s General Hospital in Pittsburgh. She graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1933, but remained there for two more semesters to take extra courses in X-Ray technology.

On December 8, 1938, Madeline entered the Maryknoll Sisters Community. In a communique to the Central Governing Board in 1980 she detailed very precisely her pre-entrance discernment process. It is an example of the direct and forthright manner with which she undertook most of the challenges she met in life. She wrote: “It was in 1938 that the Maryknoll Fathers came to my parish, which was St. Leo’s, in Pittsburgh, to solicit subscriptions for the magazine they published monthly. I subscribed to it. Therein I read an article by a Maryknoll Sister which said those interested in becoming a Maryknoll Sister should write to Mother Mary Joseph, the Foundress and Superior of the Community. At that time my sister was living in Altoona. I visited for about a week, but said nothing of my plans to contact a religious community. Upon my return, I wrote to Mother Mary Joseph. The Vocation Department sent me various forms to fill out. Towards the end of September I forwarded my application. In October I heard I was accepted. Joy filled my heart.”That’s the end of her description. “Joy filled my heart.” Simple, straightforward, matter-of-fact words. No fuss, frills or fanfare. That was Anne’ s way. When she had made up her mind to do something, she just did it, and tried to get as much joy out of the doing as she could.

Sister pronounced her first vows on June 30, 1941 and her final vows six years later on June 30, 1947. Earlier at Reception time, she had received her religious name of Sister Anne Dolores.

After serving for seven years in our then Motherhouse Infirmary, Sister was assigned to hospital work in Monrovia, California. It was her first and last assignment. She remained there for thirty-five years except for times of scheduled furlough and spiritual renewal. In 1955, while on her first furlough, Sister took a refresher course in X-Ray technology at Cornell University. She was no longer young, but she never lost her interest in her profession and tried to stay as up-to-date and involved in changes as she could. She kept up her membership in her professional organizations, even after she stopped being actively engaged in formal radiology, and attended whatever conventions or meetings she could.

I can still remember her trip to Hawaii in 1978 when she was 79 years old. She not only attended all the meetings at the Convention Center, but when she wasn’t active there she was visiting one of our houses or touring the Islands. Such was her disposition, that she not only made plans as to where she wanted to go and what she wanted to see, but she had written “Thank You” notes to all the people who would be taking care of her, with enclosed “hospitality gifts”, even before she left Monrovia!

Sister never regretted her many years in mission in one place, namely, Monrovia. On the contrary, she loved Monrovia intensely and hoped to die there. Her plans in this matter were interrupted, however, by something beyond her control.

To many of our younger members, Sister may be practically unknown. She was away from Maryknoll, New York for so long: 35 years in Monrovia, with only brief visits to the Center – 1955, 1966 and 1975. Even during her past five years in our Nursing Home it was not easy to get to know her because of her health.  A special consolation to Sister during these trying years was her faithful friend and aide, Maryknoll Nursing Home staff members.

Though Sister Anne Dolores’ approach to death was a difficult and painful one and not one she would have prescribed for herself, still, her going was more akin to her usual mode of action. If she were able to speak now she would probably say in her typically pragmatic way: “Why should I not go? I’m not doing anything here.” Actually, she was doing much more than she realized by the example she gave of fidelity in acceptance of God’s will for her. Although we shall miss her, we rejoice with her, for as Kahlil Gibran so aptly put it: “The awakening is there, where one (I am) is with the (my) beloved and the reality.”

We also want to thank our good friend, Father Arthur Brown, M.M., friend to all the residents of Maryknoll Nursing Hone, for celebrating this Eucharistic Liturgy of remembrance and thanksgiving with us.