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Margaret “Peg” Monahan: Always Give Back

Margaret “Peg” Monahan relaxes on the first stop of a cruise she took in January 2009. She’s definitely in Margaritaville near Key West, Fla.! (Submitted photo)

“Don’t ever forget from where you came and always give back.”

This is a piece of advice that Margaret “Peg” Monahan’s father gave to her when she was a young girl. It’s advice that Peg has never forgotten.

Born and raised on the northwest side of Chicago, Peg was the oldest of three children. All three attended Our Lady of Mercy Grade School, a Sisters of Providence school.

While Peg’s relationship with the Congregation started at Our Lady of Mercy, it was cemented when her family moved near the family of Sister Ellen Madigan (RIP), who was then simply known as Ellen.

“In 1942, we moved three doors away from the Madigan family,” said Peg, who has resided in Banning, Calif., since 2003. “In 1945, when my brother was born in February, Sister Ellen, who was not a sister at that time, was my brother’s godmother. She entered the convent in July of ’45,” continued Peg, who has two daughters and two grandchildren.

Graduating from grade school in June of 1950, Peg enrolled in Alvernia High School in Chicago.

“The reason that I did not go to Providence High School is because the distance was very, very far and you had to take three buses to get there. My parents did not want me to do that kind of traveling. I could go to Alvernia and take one bus,” said Peg, who kept in contact with Sister Ellen after she entered the Congregation.

Upon graduating from high school in 1954, Peg continued working for the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, where she had started working during her senior year. In June of 1955, Peg married and one year later she left the workplace to start a family.

When her two girls were older, Peg worked for a manufacturing company as an inside sales correspondent. Her desire was to be an outside salesperson. However, back in those days, women weren’t always given the plum jobs that paid more money. So Peg decided to see what the insurance industry could offer her.

In 1976, Peg asked the Aetna Life & Casualty representative who interviewed her, “‘Is your commission schedule the same for both male and female?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ And I thought, you know, that’s great. So I’ll be rewarded for what I do as a person and it won’t matter what gender I am,” continued Peg, who enjoys volunteering in her community, traveling, going on cruises and golfing.

After three years at Aetna, she changed to Sentry Insurance. “I went with them because I could sell everything. In other words, with Aetna, I only could sell life and health insurance. When I went to Sentry, I could also sell property, casualty, liability, worker’s comp. I got my National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) license,” said Peg, which enabled her to sell annuities and provide financial planning services.

During this time of building her career, Peg continued her relationship with the Congregation and most especially with Sister Ellen. No matter where in the United States her career took her, Sister Ellen and other Sisters of Providence were always welcomed in Peg’s home. This relationship was definitely a two way street. When cancer struck Peg, Sister Ellen helped her and the sisters kept her in their prayers. Peg returned the favor to Sister Ellen when her health began to fail.

“I had the privilege of taking care of her,” said Peg, who attends Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Parish in Banning and Beaumont, Calif.

I support the Congregation in return for the education and foundation that they gave me. What I gained [from the sisters] are values and authentic relationships. They walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
– Peg Monahan

Peg’s generosity also includes financial gifts to the Congregation. Until Sister Ellen’s death in November of 1997, Peg had always contributed to the SP Retirement Fund. Peg broadened her giving when she was visited by Sister Susan “Sue” Paweski, alumnae relations manager and major gifts associate. Sister Sue, knowing Peg’s connection with Chicago, suggested that she might want to support Providence Family Services (PFS), a ministry that provides bilingual support and direction to residents of the West Humboldt Park community in northwest Chicago. Every month, Peg is a faithful donor to this ministry.

Peg’s financial kindness to the Congregation extends far beyond PFS. Her financial contributions have furnished rooms in health care, entertained sisters in health care with the purchase of a Clavinova, and increased the size of the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice orchard. She has even remembered the Congregation in her will and has supported the Congregation’s charitable gift annuity program. Peg has also generously given to the renovation of Providence Hall. Many of these gifts have been made in the memory of Sister Ellen.

“I support the Congregation in return for the education and foundation that they gave me. What I gained [from the sisters] are values and authentic relationships. They walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” said Peg.

It appears Peg took to heart her father’s advice; she never forgot from whence she came and she always gives back.

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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