Sister Mary George Callan, MM

Born: October 28, 1906
Entered: October 14, 1929
Died: October 4, 1985

This morning as we gather in worship and celebration, our hearts are once again filled with awe and gratitude for God’s precious gift of life to each one of us – and now in a very special way today, for the fullness of Life that our Sister Mary George now enjoys. Sister died peacefully at 02:00 A.M. on Friday, October 4th, 1985 in our Maryknoll Nursing Home after many years of illness.

Margaret C. Callan was born on October 28, 1906 in South Boston, Massachusetts. She was the only girl of 5 children born to Patrick and Marion Farrell Callan. Three of these children were to enter religious life. Two of Margaret’s brothers became priests: John, a Maryknoller, who served in South China and who died in 1949; and George, a  Dominican, who died in 1971. Margaret graduated from SS Peter and Paul Elementary School in South Boston, and attended High School there. Later she enrolled at Burdett Business Night School, studying office procedures and learning the skills necessary to become a telephone/switchboard operator. At the completion of the course, she worked as a long distance operator for New England Telephone and Telegraph before entering Maryknoll.

Margaret came to Maryknoll on October 14, 1929 and was given the name Sister Mary George at her formal Reception in April 1930. She made her first Profession of vows on January 6, 1932 and pronounced her final vows three years later in 1935.

With the exception of a few years in Monrovia, and at Valley Park, MO., Sister Mary George spent most of her life at Maryknoll, New York. Her years before and immediately after Profession were spent at the Field Afar Office doing whatever jobs were necessary to help in the mission effort. At the Center for many years and later in Monrovia, Sister George was her usual cheerful self in her service of God and her Sisters. In our memory we recall her days on the Switchboard and her tales of what could happen during one day on duty. With the greatest humor she would straighten out calls, appease the irate, soothe the frustrated and keep everyone in good humor. Her work at the Mail Desk and in the Promotion Office kept her in touch with many people and enabled her participation in the mission of Jesus as she shared stories of our Sisters and the peoples of many countries. In 1966 she was assigned the Prayer Apostolate for the Spiritual and Temporal Needs of the Novitiates in the Orient. This was especially dear to her heart because of her brother John’s missionary work in South China.

This is what we know of Sister Mary George’s active life: The dates of significant events, the places and forms of her ministry in Maryknoll, her quiet work and manner, being faithful to the ordinary in life will be remembered by all of us.

On March 2, 1976, Sister was assigned to Bethany. We know that for the last 10 years, Sister became less and less able to direct her physical movement and even to give expression to her thoughts and feelings. These last years found Sister totally dependent on others for her every need. As she accepted the ministrations of others, she could be comforted by the words of Isaiah:

“I will give you treasures out of the darkness and riches that have been hidden away – that you may know that I am the Lord – the God of Israel Who calls you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:3)

A twinkle in her eye or a slight smile were the only signs of recognition Sister George was able to communicate to those who cared for her – but they were signs of life. We wish to thank the Staff of Maryknoll Nursing Home who so faithfully and gently attended Sister these many years, carefully respecting those small signs of life.

We welcome Father Robert E. Sheridan, M.M., who will celebrate the Eucharistic Liturgy of remembrance and thanksgiving with us this morning.