Sister Margaret Hennessey, M.M. celebrated her 70th Jubilee as a Maryknoll Sister on February 12th, 2017. Sister Margaret, known to all as Peg, forms part of a pastoral/medical team that works with the poor and homeless and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Lima, Peru.
Sister Peg Hennessey of Flushing, NY entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1947, having graduated from Bishop McDonnell High School in Brooklyn, NY. After earning her R.N. at St.Catherine’s Hospital School of Nursing, Sister Peg was assigned to Bolivia in 1953 where she worked in a parish clinic in Cochabamba for three years. She then went to the jungle mission of Riberalta, Beni, Bolivia, where she worked in the Sisters’ hospital. In 1960 she was assigned to the town of Azangaro in the Altiplano of Peru, where she did home visiting and worked in an out-patient clinic. After 3 years, the town of Juli, Peru, received her. There she did catechetical work. Sister Peg also did nursing in a government clinic. It was there that she saw the need for health education. She then began to teach in the newly formed Rural Life Institute. Sister returned to the U.S. where she earned a B.A. in Community Service. Returning to Peru, she continued her nursing and health education as well as the training of Rural Life Promoters in the town of Ilave, another Altiplano area. 1976 found Sister Peg in Lima, Peru, where she was instrumental in founding the Peruvian Missionary Society with Fr. Tom Garrity, M.M. She continued her formation work for the next 4 years in Villa El Salvador while becoming active in nursing those afflicted with tuberculosis. In 1984 Sister moved to the pueblo of Pachacamac in Lima where she again worked with those with tuberculosis, the #1 cause of death both among the poor of Lima and among women of childbearing age. She considered that tuberculosis was caused as much by poverty as by germs. “While living in Pachacamac some of my neighbors were afflicted with AIDS and I started to learn more about this recent disease. Over the last few years this has led to my participation on a team that visits HIV/AIDS patients both at home and in the hospital. Some of the team members also prepare monthly retreat days for the patients. I continue to care for people with TB.” It was here that Sr. Peg began Health-Life and Hope, a group that tried to help members overcome ignorance, isolation and despair.
Currently, Sr. Margaret has returned to the Sisters Center where she in an active member of the Chi Rho community.