Maryknoll, NY: Sister Helen Marie Kenny died on January 4th, 2020 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY. She was 88 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 70 years.
Helen was born in Manhattan, New York to Margaret (Hanley) Kenny and James Patrick Kenny. She had three sisters, Peggy, Mary Ellen and Catherine and one brother, James Joseph. All of her siblings except Catherine have predeceased her.
Helen attended high school at St. Agnes Academy in College Point, NY from 1945 -1949. After graduating, she entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate at the Maryknoll Fathers Seminary in Scranton, PA on September 6th, 1949 (from Holy Family parish in the Brooklyn Diocese, NY). She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7th, 1952 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY and her Final Vows on March 7th, 1955, also at the Sisters Center.
After her profession of vows in 1952, Sister Helen worked in the kitchen at both the Maryknoll Fathers Seminary in Scranton, PA and their property in Maryknoll, NY until 1954. She then enrolled in Catherine Laboure School of Nursing in Boston, MA and became a Registered Nurse in 1957. Following graduation, she was assigned to Kansas City, MO to serve as Nursing Supervisor at Queen of the World Hospital.
Sister Helen received her first overseas mission assignment to Hong Kong in 1958, there she studied language and served as a nurse at Kwun Tong Clinic.
In 1961, she was assigned to Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, where she was Operating Room and Ward Supervisor until 1964. She then returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY to serve as infirmary nurse until 1966.
From 1966-1967, Sister Helen attended classes at Mary Rogers College (located on the property of the Sisters Center), before transferring to Villanova University, PA where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 1969. She then earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration at Columbia University, NY in 1970.
After furthering her education, Sister Helen returned to Hong Kong once again to serve as Nursing Service Director for 260 patients at Maryknoll Hospital from 1970-1984.
In 1985, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY for congregational service in the Sisters nursing home until 1988, when she returned to Hong Kong to set-up a hospice care unit at Maryknoll Hospital.
In 1990, she began a period of extensive volunteering in Hong Kong for the next several years:
- Honorary Secretary for the Hospice Board and Executive Committee (1990-2000)
- Helped setup the first hospice in Hong Kong (Bradbury Hospice Center) (1997-2005)
- Served on the Board of Governors at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital and at the Hospital Authority (1998-2011)
- Served as advisor on the Hong Kong Cancer Fund Steering Committee (2006-2012)
- Volunteer with the Keswick Foundation and Make A Wish Foundation (1993-1997)
- Helped reorganized and developed the Palliative Care Unit at Maryknoll Hospital (1998-2000)
- Helped set-up Maggie’s Cancer Caring Center, the first such center outside of the UK. (2006-2008)
In 2012, Sister Helen returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY to retire.
A Vespers service was held for Sister Helen Kenny on January 7th, 2020 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
A funeral Mass followed on Wednesday, January 8th, 2020 at 11:00 a.m., also in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
Interment followed in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.