Sister Julia Hannigan

Brooklyn-Born Sister Julia Hannigan,
Missioner to China with Martyred Bishop,
Dies at 99

Hannigan JMaryknoll, NY — Sister Julia Hannigan, MM, a missioner to China, died August 15, 2015.  She was 99 years old, and just six and a half weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

Born September 30, 1915 in Brooklyn, NY, to John A. and Julia McCleary Hannigan. Christened Julia Regina Hannigan, Sister Julia was one of five children, three daughters and two sons, born to the couple.  All members of her immediate family have pre-deceased her.

Sister Julia joined Maryknoll Sisters on December 8, 1933, with a passion to minister in China, a calling she fulfilled through work in teaching, catechetics and counseling in Tung Shek, Hingning, and Kaying, South China.

Following her final vows on June 30, 1939, Sister Julia was first sent to China, where, following a year of language study, she worked in direct evangelization in Hingning from 1941-1946 and Kaying City, from 1948-1951. Placed under house arrest in 1950, and taken with other Maryknollers including martyr Bishop Francis Xavier Ford to a Canton prison in 1951, Sister Julia was deported by the Communist regime to Hong Kong. Three months later, in September 1951, she went the island of Mauritius, off the African coast, having been requested to help in the evangelization of the Hakka Chinese flocking there to escape the Communist regime.

Sister Julia then did promotion work at the motherhouse in Ossining NY, from 1952-55, was engaged  in catechetical and parish work in Walterboro, SC, in 1955, then in visiting patients and instructing catechumens at Queen of the World Hospital, Kansas City, MO, from 1956-58.

Returning to Hong Kong in 1964, Sister Julia worked in parish ministry for the Catholic Welfare Center teaching religion to refugees at the Hong Kong Refugee School until 1971. She then taught CCD classes at a government school in Kowloon, where she also organized a children’s recreation center, serving at both from 1971-74.

In 1974, Sister Julia returned to the United States, where she worked with refugees and taught English as a second language in Boston, MA, New York City and Monrovia, CA, from 1975-81. She then worked in a Chinese church and school in Philadelphia, PA from 1984-85.

She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center at the end of 1985, where she assisted in the house pharmacy, with clothing detail, and in the Sisters’ International Gift Shop, which she managed in 1986. She has been part of the Chi Ro Community at the Center since then.

Sister Julia is survived by her nieces, Mary Staab of Howard Beach, NY, and Julia Wachter and Ann Wagner of Glendale, NY; a nephew, John McShane of Howard Beach, NY; as well as several cousins and other family members including James Kearney of Bronxville, NY; John T. Kearney of Vienna, VA; Kevin Kearney of Belle Harbor, NY;  and Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Ridge of Brooklyn, NY.

A vespers service will be held for Sister Julia on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY.  A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Friday, August 21, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.  Interment will be in Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Maryknoll Sisters Center grounds.