Cannon, Sr. M. Madeleine

Cannon, Sr. M. Madeleine

Nationality: Irish
Congregational Register No: 142
D.O.B. 14.02.1907
First Profession: 16.03.1948
Died: 15.07.2006 Aged: 99 years
Bridget Cannon came from a large family in a Gaelic speaking area in Co. Donegal.  She trained as a general nurse in England and later as a midwife, fever nurse and district nurse.  Bridget had many years of nursing experience in the UK and Ireland before joining MMM. She was working as a district nurse in her native Donegal when she finally decided she was called to religious life. 

Bridget was devoted to her large family and it took quite a while before she made the final move, entering MMM in August 1945 at the age of thirty-seven and taking the name Sr. Mary Madeleine.

In 1948, two weeks after first profession, Sr. M. Madeleine was sailing for Nigeria which was to be her home until 1969.  She spent most of those years working mainly in the maternity unit in Ogoja, with shorter periods in other missions in Ogoja and Calabar Dioceses.  She enjoyed her work in Nigeria, speaking in her letters of the ‘full life’ she was leading.  She was a very experienced nurse and often relieved nursing Sisters in the Hansen’s disease (leprosy) clinics when they went on leave, or wherever else she was needed.  She called herself a ‘Jack of all trades’, but midwifery was her specialty and her great love.

One needed to be strong and adaptable working in Nigeria in those early years. As Madeleine wrote in 1949: ‘You have to be anaesthetist, theatre sister, midwife, general, laundress, cook, everything and anything in turn; certainly you have little time to think long.’  However, it is doubtful that much would ever have fazed Sr. Madeleine.  During her time as district nurse in Donegal in the 1940s, a British plane crashed in the mountains and Ms. Cannon, taking her bag of medical supplies, hiked over very difficult terrain to reach and help the wounded men.  In appreciation of her concern and bravery, the parents of a young man killed in the crash presented Bridget Cannon with an antique silver bowl.  All in a day’s work to our Sr. Madeleine!  

She was working in the Nkalagu Cement Factory Hospital during the Civil War when the hospital was closed in 1969, and she returned home to Ireland.  She worked in the infirmary and did other household duties until 1994 when she entered Áras Mhuire.

During her latter years Madeleine was much troubled by arthritis, but did her best to keep as active as she could.  She celebrated her 99th birthday in February 2006, surrounded by flowers and cards, and enjoyed the celebration very much.  Madeleine was an inspiration to all who knew her. Her faith, sense of humour and uprightness endeared her to the staff in Áras Mhuire, who looked after her with great love and tenderness.  May she now enjoy perfect peace, love and an even deeper union with the Lord.