Full of grace – Sister Mary Anne McDonagh

Full of grace – Sister Mary Anne McDonagh

Sister Mary Anne McDonagh, who founded the Holy Redeemer Jersey Shore Food Pantry, is pictured at the Holy Redeemer Montesorri School in Tanzania.sistermaryannmcdonagh-web

Sister Mary Anne McDonagh, who died earlier this year, worked all over the world. Among her accomplishments was the founding of the Holy Redeemer Jersey Shore Food Pantry.

Born Anne Philomena McDonagh in Barnacouge, Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland, Sister Mary Anne (Nancy to her family) immigrated to the United States in 1955 and began working at St. Francis deSales Parish in Philadelphia.

In 1958, she joined the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer and, as a licensed practical nurse, visited the homebound sick in North Philadephia, and ministered in St. Joseph Manor and at Holy Redeemer Hospital, both in Meadowbrook, Pa..

After serving as a mentor and formation director of young sisters, and ministering in Mission Integration at Holy Redeemer Health System, she helped open the Holy Redeemer Home Care in Swainton in 1982 and aided the homebound sick. Soon after, she was elected to the provincial leadership team and spent time serving at a nursing home owned by the Sisters of Lansdale (Villa of Divine Providence).

Returning to Holy Redeemer Home Care in Swainton, she witnessed the plight of seniors and their families, who survived on limited incomes and lacked proper nutrition. To help, she began taking food from the convent pantry and giving it to the nurses, instructing them to pass it on to their patients. A collection site for dry goods was subsequently set up in one of the home care’s offices.

The increasing need for food was met from donations from local churches, and in 1995, Holy Redeemer Food Pantry, under the leadership of Sister Mary Anne and volunteers, became a certified member of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, .

In her final ministry, Sister Mary Anne served as a sponsor liaison, bringing a healing presence to seniors at the Holy Redeemer Lafayette and to customers and staff at the Holy Redeemer Thrift Store in Hatboro, Pa.

On Feb. 27 of this year, Sister Mary Anne died at the age of 73. Notes of sympathy, and memories came from family and friends all over the United States, and from Ireland, England, Germany and Tanzania.

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