Ann Isobel McKiernan was born in Armagh in 1931. She was educated at Saint Malachy’s Primary School and the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Armagh. She had two brothers: Johnny and Father George, a Passionist priest, and one sister, Madge. Ann joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1949.
After profession Sr. Josefa trained as a radiographer in University College Dublin. She did her practical training in the hospital in Drogheda, and then worked for six years there. In 1960 she was assigned to Nigeria. She spent three years in Anua, working in the pharmacy and x-ray departments. At the end of 1962 she went to Afikpo and again worked in the pharmacy and x-ray departments. She had to leave in 1967 when war broke out in Nigeria.
Josefa returned to Drogheda and continued to work as a radiographer. She was very committed and dedicated to her work and contributed greatly to building up the department. In 1970 she went to London for further studies, obtaining her fellowship in radiography. Returning to Ireland in 1971 she served as assistant superior for three years. She completed further studies in teaching radiography in Ipswich, England in 1976 and was then superintendent radiographer in the hospital in Drogheda for seventeen years. She enjoyed her work and made many friends, keeping up contact with them.
In 1994 Áras Mhuire, our nursing facility, was opened and Josefa was asked to be Sister-in-charge. There was a lot of work involved in setting up the unit and she became totally involved in this. She retired to our MMM Motherhouse in 1999. In 2008 she required extensive surgery and was incapacitated for a lengthy period. Nevertheless, she kept busy in her community. When she was asked to accompany the MMM Associates she was very happy to do so.
She experienced more ill health and moved to Áras Mhuire for additional care in 2009.
Josefa had a lovely outgoing personality and was very light-hearted and cheerful. She was very close to her family and was always delighted when there was an excuse to go up to Armagh, especially in earlier days when Sisters didn’t get home very often. She was a good listener and Sisters and staff came to her for guidance and spiritual help. Every day she had a candle burning in her room and prayed for their intentions. Her favourite prayer was: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Sister Josefa died peacefully in Áras Mhuire on 3 March 2015, just as Father Pat Kelly was finishing Mass.