Sister Paula Marie Kuntz, MM, a medical missioner in Kenya and Tanzania, died January 3, 2015, at the Maryknoll Sisters Home Care, Maryknoll, NY. She was 81 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 63 years.
Born on June 7, 1933 to Edward William and Margaret Ellen Ward Kuntz in London, ON, Sister Paula entered Maryknoll at their Motherhouse in Maryknoll, NY from the Parish of St. Michael, London, on September 6, 1951. She holds a double citizenship, Canadian and U.S., and became a naturalized US citizen on January 6, 1999.
Sister Paula made her First Profession of Vows on March 7, 1954, at the Motherhouse. She received her religious name, “Sister Paula Marie” at reception and retained it all her life, but is better known simply as “Paula”. After profession she was assigned to work in the Maryknoll Seminary kitchen, where she served from 1954-1959.
From 1955-1959, Sister Paula went on to study nursing from 1955 – 1959 at College of St. Teresa in Winona, MN and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN where she received her B.S.N. She then worked as a nurse at Bethany House, Ossining, NY, in 1959 and at Monrovia, CA from 1960 – 1965, making her Final Profession on March 7, 1960, at the Motherhouse, Maryknoll, NY.
Her first foreign assignment was to Makoko, Tanzania in 1965, where she studied Kiswahili and Tanzanian culture for a year, before being sent to Kowak, where until April 1969, she served to relieve Sisters due to come home for renewal from several missions, located in Rosana and Mipa, In May 1969, she was assigned to Kinango, Kenya, the first Maryknoll Sister to serve in that country. There, she worked in a new hospital project funded by the Kenyan Government and Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation. When the hospital was delayed in opening, the Kenyan government’ s Provincial Matron asked Sister Paula to help out at Malindi District Hospital. One year later the Provincial Matron asked Sister Paula to work at Coast General Hospital in Mombasa. Sister Paula was the Sister-in-Charge until 1972.
Meeting Sister Paula on her way home for renewal, the Bishop of Eldoret Diocese asked her to open a new mission clinic in Mois Bridge, when she returned to Kitale. There she served on the nursing staff, and as Co-Director from October 1972 – 1985. Sister Paula engaged in clinic and public health programs in the Diocese of Eldoret from 1973 – 1985. This very busy health service was handed over to the Assumption Sisters of Eldoret in 1986.
Following a year of study at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA from September 1985-July 1986, Sister Paula returned to Kitale, where she worked in pastoral and medical ministry in the Eldoret Diocese until 2008. During that time, she served in local medical clinics from 1986-1998, founded a new pastoral/medical ministry in Kitale in 1999, provided pastoral ministry to women and the handicapped from 1999-2005, and did pastoral/medical work from 2006-2008. She also taught adult literacy classes for women two days a week, started an income-generating project with the poor and elderly, began a weekly feeding program, and set up a banking project that enabled the poor to deposit any amount of money, even one shilling, to a personal account. That project continues to assist the same people today, and has been operated by the Little Sisters of St. Frances since 1995. Sister Paula also served as Regional Governing Board contact person in Kenya from 1987-1989 and as Regional Treasurer for Maryknoll Sisters in Kenya from 1998-2002.
Sister Paula returned to Maryknoll, NY, in 2009, where she worked as Working Supervisor of Incoming Mail from 2009-2014.
Sister Paula is survived by five sisters, Mrs. Barbara Schmuck of Waterloo, ON, Mrs. Margaret Downing of London, ON, Mrs. Patricia O’Grady of Kitchener, ON, Sister Dolores Kuntz of London, ON, and Sister Mary Lillian, CSJ, also of London, ON; and one brother, Edward Kuntz of London, ON
A vespers service will be held for Sister Paula, who donated her body to science, on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. Her Memorial Mass will take place on Thursday, January 8, 2015, at 11 a.m. in the same location. Interment will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery at the Center.