Sister Mary Peter Duggan, MM

Born: September 17, 1896
Entered: October 7, 1919
Died: February 12, 1951

Sr. Peter came to Maryknoll on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, October 1919. She was professed on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 1922. She worked hard among the Japanese, whom she loved, in Los Angeles and in Manchuria. In Dairen, she started the Maryknoll Sisters’ School, and today in Dairen and in other cities which are barred from us by the Communists, the graduates of this school continue the good work they learned from Sister Peter and her Sisters. Only a few days ago, a letter came to her from a group of former pupils now living in Tientsin, banded together in an association to help one another, and their children to live the way they had been taught at the Sisters’ School. She was made Regional Superior for the Sisters in the three northern missions of Manchuria, Korea and Japan. When the war broke in December 1941, Sister Peter was interned, along with other Maryknollers, cut off from contact with the school children and parishioners in Dairen. After several months she was transferred with others to Shanghai and was kept there until the fall of 1943 when she was repatriated on the Gripsholm.

Back in America she went up and down the country, making friends for the missions. She was a born teacher, and she was teaching all the time. Everyone was impressed. She made lasting friendships. Her pupils of twenty and thirty years ago still correspond with her. Friends made during the last ten and fifteen years spoke of her and wrote to her.

A good part of this time was spent in illness. In Manchuria before the war, she had her first serious illness. Five or six years ago, while Superior at Bethany, she was stricken again. She had been invited to Rochester by the Superintendent of Schools, Msgr. Duffy, to speak to the teachers and students. One morning at Mass, kneeling at the Communion rail, she became very ill again and had to be taken to the Ossining Hospital. She said one day to the Sister: “It will be wonderful not to have to say that I feel pretty well when I don’t feel well at all.” She prayed for her friends, for all Maryknollers, for all missioners. She asked others to pray for her. She was concerned about Korea. She asked the Sister Nurse to read her the prayer for Korea, “O Mary Immaculate, Patroness of Korea, look with compassion on the souls of that worthy people…” A few days ago, she made the sign of the Cross and kissed the Crucifix all through the night. She called the Sister and asked her to thank everyone for being so good to her. She sent her thanks and love to Mother Mary Joseph.

Thirty years ago Sister Mary Peter knelt in the little chapel of the old farmhouse across the road and promised to follow Her Master, to take up her cross and serve Him faithfully. Today our gentle Master has lifted the cross from her tired shoulders, taken from her head the crown of thorns and placed there the beautiful flowery crown which He has faithfully guarded for her since that day when she herself laid it down and said, “I choose the crown of thorns.”