Sister Mary Carol Cannon, MM

Born: December 13, 1916
Entered: December 7, 1938
Died: February 9, 2007

Not knowing the hour of our death is one of life’s great mysteries. For us here at the Center, the shocking news of Sister Mary Carol Cannon’s passing quickly spread. She died on Friday, February 9, 2007. Sister was 90 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 68 years.

Mary Carol Cannon was born on December 13, 1916 in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of three children born to William Archibald and Mary Ann Reis Cannon. She had two brothers.

Carol attended St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Paul, graduating in June 1934. Immediately she undertook the study of Catechetics in St. Paul over a three year period. These studies were later to serve as the source for much of her work both in Hawaii and in Peru. At eighty years of age, when requesting a transfer from Peru to the Center, she gave her reason as wishing to return to the roots of the Community and offered to do adult catechesis in Spanish in the Ossining area.

Carol entered Maryknoll on December 7, 1938 at Maryknoll, N Y. At Reception, she received the name of Sr. Maria Jose, made her First Profession of Vows on June 31, 1941 at the Center and her Final Profession of Vows in Hawaii on June 30, 1944. Carols first assignment was to the Philippines, but World War II made this impossible. Consequently, she went to Hawaii instead in 1941, where for seventeen years she served as a cook and a catechetical teacher in the houses of Kalihi, Heeia, and Punahou on Oahu and at St. Anthony’s in Wailuku on Maui.

It was in 1953 when Sister Carol made national headlines, placing third with her Coconut Island Cookies in the Pillsbury Grand National Recipe and Cake Baking Contest. Carol had flown from Honolulu to New York to compete in the national contest, which was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Carol was a great baker and this memory of her lingers wherever she was assigned. Later she put together a cook book which sold quite well in Hawaii.

In 1958 Sister Carol was assigned to Peru. She went to Bolivia for Spanish language study and then to Peru where she served in Arequipa, Azangaro, Puno, Juli and Lima. In each of these assignments she was seen as bright and creative, using her catechetical skills to instruct teachers, children and adults. She also taught English. She was a pastoral person, always keeping in the forefront the importance of religious education for adults. Her last assignment before leaving Peru was in Lima at Ciudad de Dios Parish, where along with offering her gift of catechesis, she taught nutrition and supervised the parish library.

From 1966 to 1970, Carol studied in New York, obtaining a BS in Elementary Education from Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, and an MA in Theology, with emphasis on Religious Education, from Manhattan College.

Carol suffered from several illnesses, and despite these, she seemed never to lose her energy and enthusiasm. As these problems became worse, she accepted the need to return to the Center and was assigned to the Main House December 1, 1997. Leaving Peru was very difficult for her.

Here at the Center, Carol continued to reach out to visitors, staff and sisters. Her intellectual pursuits were many as she read avidly. She collected innumerable articles and other pieces of information. Since each of these was special to her, she could not find it in her heart to discard any of them!

On February 1, 2004, to better meet her growing physical needs, Sister Carol was assigned to the Eden Community. Here again, she remained totally interested in all that went on, never missing a talk nor the opportunity at prayer to remember the concerns of individuals and groups around the world. We will listen today to the Beatitudes of Jesus, and hear “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Indeed, justice was Carol’s hunger and thirst.

It is with sorrow that we say goodbye to Carol. This morning we welcome, thank and extend our condolences to Sister Carol’s family. We also thank and extend sympathy to her caregivers in Out Patient Care and in Maryknoll Residential Care III, as well as to members of the Community who walked with her. We welcome Father Carmen LaMazza, our Maryknoll Brother, who will celebrate this Liturgy of Christian burial.