Sister Margaret Ann (Marie Nicholas) McNamara
“All wisdom comes from the Lord.” (Sirach 1:1)
“Our beautiful reading from Sirach said, ‘The Lord lavished wisdom upon his friends.’ Truly, the Lord’s bounty has granted the Sisters of Providence a generous portion of wisdom in the life of Sister Margaret Ann,” said Sister Therese Guerin Sullivan in her commentary for Sister Margaret Ann McNamara, who died Sept. 1.
The middle of three children, Margaret Ann McNamara was born Aug. 5, 1935, in Chicago to Nicholas and Mary (O’Brien) McNamara. She attended St. Mel Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago.
“Sister Margaret Ann worked for a year after high school at Kaufman Electric Company. As a young working woman, she loved to take her mother on special visits to downtown and to lunch. She entered the Sisters of Providence July 22, 1955,” continued Sister Therese Guerin. “Sister Margaret Ann often joked about how the McNamara children were the typical Chicago Irish family: Nick became a policeman, she was a nun and Jim became a fireman. All were in service-related jobs.”
Sister Margaret Ann professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1958, and Aug. 15, 1963. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a master’s degree in elementary education from Ball State University and another master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Loyola University.
Sister Margaret Ann began teaching middle grades in 1960 at Holy Family, New Albany, Ind. Her other educational ministries as either a teacher or principal included St. Jude, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Sacred Heart, Whiting, Ind.; St. Joseph, Lockport, Ill.; and St. Agnes, Chicago. She also served as superior in Whiting and Lockport (St. Dennis).
“One of the questions of renewal of religious life in the early 1970s was to examine how a religious might live the charism of a congregation in the midst of the secular world. Sister Margaret Ann was one of the first sisters to work in a non-Church related institution. She went to work for the American Society of Clinical Pathologists as an educator coordinating the testing and certification of medical personnel. She earned great respect from the medical professionals and doctors with whom she worked,” said Sister Therese Guerin.
In 1987, Sister Margaret Ann was elected co-provincial of St. Joseph Province, Park Ridge, Ill. For two years she was the vice president of Missions Services for the Wheaton Franciscan Services, Wheaton, Ill. She then ministered as either a co-director or director of the Permanent Deacon Program for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In 1996, Sister Margaret Ann was elected to the Congregation’s General Council. She served in that role until 2001.
“Sister Margaret Ann walked in dignity with her memory deficit. Her entire life was marked with integrity. Her commitments were always kept and she was faithful to all she had vowed. A genuine spirit of joy and laughter were signatures of her interaction with others even in her recent years,” continued Sister Therese Guerin.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Margaret Ann was celebrated Sept. 4, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her younger brother, James, of Chicago.
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