Sister Mary Christine Donnelly, MM

Born: December 18, 1924
Entered: October 5, 1946
Died: December 31, 1972

The entire Community had assembled in the main chapel for the First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Mother of God; in another part of the house the phone had rung; Sister Mercy brought the message to Sister Barbara, who went to the lectern and announced: “Doctor Finucane just called to tell us that Sister Christine Donnelly has died. Let us give thanks to God through our Vespers service this evening for He has seen fit to take Chris to Himself rather than prolong her suffering.”

Because Sister Christine had been ill since early October, the announcement of her death came as no surprise, but the immediate pain of loss tangibly swept through the Community assembled for evening prayer. It would seem no coincidence that Sister Christine would die on the eve of Our Lady’s feast for her devotion to Mary was constant, deep, and childlike; and in the long hours of her agony, she had prayed over and over “Pray for us, Mary, now and at the hour of our death.”

Sister Christine was much loved by all who knew her. She had a facility for making friends and keeping them. She loved life and clung to it to the end for to her, life was loving people. A few days before her death a very dear and old friend came to see her. He asked “Chris, have you come to terms with death?” She answered, “I long ago came to terms with death; what I have not been able to reconcile is the loss of my friends – how I will miss them!” It is safe to say that now, gathered in the eternal embrace of that perfect Friend, it is we, her Sisters, here, who experience the loss of a friend. We will miss her, not just her physical presence among us, but her happy laughter ringing with optimism, her effervescent love for life revealing the depth of a joyous dedication to her religious missionary vocation; her beautiful generous spirit, her fidelity to prayer, and her childlike love of Mary.

In 1946, when she entered Maryknoll, Chris wrote: “I want to join Maryknoll because I wish to try to live more completely the Gospel counsel urging us to leave family, relatives and friends so that my life will be devoted to God alone.” As the years went on and Chris was never asked by her Community to relinquish her country or her friends at home, she realized more and more that a “life dedicated to God alone” is one spent in loving one’s neighbor.

Mary Christine Donnelly was born on December 18, 1924, in Waterbury, Connecticut. She entered Maryknoll October 5, 1946; she was professed on April 6, 1949, at the Motherhouse and pronounced her Final Vows on April 6, 1952, at Valley Park, Missouri. In 1954, Sister Christine graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Rochester, Minnesota. At her graduation she was presented with the Edith Graham Mayo Award “for outstanding kindness to patients.” In 1969 she graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Nursing from Villanova University in Philadelphia. Sister Christine was assigned to work at Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1954 and, with the exception of a brief period at Monrovia in 1959 on a temporary assignment, she remained at Kansas City until 1966. Sister Christine was superior at Kansas City from 1960 until 1966. In July 1969 Sister became the Director of Community’s Health Services, a position she held until her death on December 31, 1972.

In 1971, when Father John J. McCormack, M.M., requested that we provide a Sister-nurse to accompany Bishop Walsh on his visit to the Latin America missions, Sister Christine Donnelly was chosen. This experience meant much to her and shortly before her death, Bishop Walsh went to the hospital and blessed her.

The Office of the Resurrection will be prayed on Tuesday, January 2, 1973. The Mass of the Resurrection will be offered on Wednesday, January 3, 1973. She will be buried at Maryknoll.

“We seem to give them back to you, O God, who gave them to us. Yet as you did not lose them in giving, so do we not lose them in their return. Not as the world gives, do you give, O Lover of souls…What you give you take not away, for what is yours is ours also if we are yours.” (Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.)