Maryknoll, NY Sister Agnes Cazale, a native of New Orleans, LA, and Maryknoll missioner and catechist in China for over 50 years, died April 8, 2014, at Maryknoll Sisters Home Care IV, Maryknoll, NY. She was 91 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 70 years.
Born on January 30, 1923, in New Orleans to Philip P. and Henrietta Lassus Cazale, Sister Agnes was one of six girls and one boy born to the couple. She entered Maryknoll at its motherhouse in Maryknoll, NY, from St. Matthew’s Parish, Riverridge, LA, on September 7, 1943, and received the religious name, Sister Maria Petra, at her reception into the community. She made her First Vows on March 7, 1946 at Maryknoll, New York, and her Final Vows on March 7, 1949, in Wuchow, Kwangsi, South China.
She graduated from Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, in 1982 with an MS in Pastoral Counseling and a certificate in spiritual direction from its Center of Spirituality and Justice. Sister Agnes also earned a B.A. in Community Service from Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY, in 1971. Prior to entering Maryknoll, she also attended LaSalle Extension School, Chicago, from 1941-1942 and Allen School of Commerce, New Orleans, LA, from 1939-1940. She graduated from Dominican High School, New Orleans, in 1939.
Following a year of service in Maryknoll Seminary kitchen and Maryknoll Sisters Center laundry, Sister Agnes received her appointment to China in 1947. She studied Chinese language and culture in Wuchow City for a year, then began her work in catechetics in Wuchow, Sz Wong, and Loting where she served until 1951.
Following a period of house arrest endured after Mao Tse Tung came to power, Sister Agnes and other Maryknollers were sent to Hong Kong, where she then continued her work in catechetics, serving in Kowloon in the Tung Tau Refugee Area, from 1951-1958. She then served in Toufen, Taipei, Taiwan, from 1958-1961; Kowloon Tsai Refugee Area, from 1963-1968; and Chai Waan Refugee Area, Hong Kong, from 1971-1973.
Sister Agnes then became director of the women’s section at Adam Schall Hostel, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, from 1972-1977, during which time she also served as administrator of her region. In 1977, Sister Agnes returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, where she worked in the Development Department until 1982, while studying for her master’s at Iona College.
She returned to China in 1982, where she was involved in spiritual direction and counseling with the nursing students at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital and the students at Maryknoll Convent School until 1991, and in regional administration from 1991-1997. She was the regional archivist from 1991-2000, and served on both the Board of Governors and the Hospital Authority Governing Committee for Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital from 2001-2005.
Sister Agnes is survived by two sisters, Sister Ursula Cazale, DC, in St. Louis, MO, and Rita Lechnar of Uniontown, PA.
A Vesper service will be held for Sister Agnes on Monday, April 14 at 4:15 p.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. on April 15. Both will be held in the Annunciation Chapel at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Burial will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery at Maryknoll, NY. Dorsey Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.