O’Conor, Sr. Margaret

O’Conor, Sr. Margaret

margaret_oconor_cropSister Margaret slipped away to her heavenly home on 9 June 2011. She had celebrated her 90th birthday on 8 March with her large extended family – a most joyous occasion. Among the fourteen priests who concelebrated her funeral Mass were her two brothers, Fr. Joe of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan, and Fr. Pat of the Columban Missionary Society, and her nephew Fr. Joe Mulcahy of Kiltegan. Her sisters Eileen, Mary and Phil, their families, as well as a large MMM community also mourned her passing.

Peg, as she was known in her family, was born in Wexford and moved with her family to Cork as a teenager. She was the eldest girl of ten children. In 1941 she entered University College Cork, and was the only woman in her class, graduating with a B.Comm. She later completed a Master’s in Economics and a H.Dip in education. At the University of Edinburgh she took a diploma in community development. She completed a diploma in gerontology at  the University of Massachusetts.

She joined MMM in 1946 at the age of 25. After her religious profession on St. Patrick’s Day1949 she hoped she would receive an assignment to Africa. Instead she was chosen to help pioneer the work of MMM in the United States. She flew from Shannon to Boston in 1950, joining the community at 36 Commonwealth Avenue. The following year she was appointed directress of novices at Winchester, MA. In 1963 she was called back to Ireland to fill the same position at our Motherhouse.

That was not an easy transition! After six years, Margaret at last received her assignment to east Africa, where she would remain until 1983. As well as research and administrative work at Kabanga, Makiungu and Namanyere Hospitals, she spent a year in Kenya carrying out research for the Kenya Episcopal Conference. This involved driving a Volkswagen Beetle all over Kenya, visiting communities of religious women to discuss with them the founding of what would become the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK).

In 1984 she returned to the USA and was based at Somerville, MA. She was once again involved in fund-raising and promotion of MMM in parishes and schools, and working on justice and peace issues. As her health began to decline, Margaret retired to Ireland in 2006, and was a lively member of our Motherhouse community into her old age, always full of challenge to the status quo, always championing women’s issues and desiring that the Church would implement the best ideals of the Second Vatican Council.

Sr. Margaret prepared steadily for her last journey, and was cared for at our Motherhouse and then at our nursing facility at Áras Mhuire.