Sister Joanne McMahon, M.M., Maryknoll Sister for 74 Years Dies

Maryknoll, NY: Sister Joanne McMahon, M.M. died on November 8th, 2020 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was born on March 28th, 1925 in Brookston, MN to Blanche (Stokes) McMahon and Francis McMahon. She had five sisters: Doris, Rose, Virginia, Bernice and Kathleen all of whom pre-deceased her.

In 1942, Joanne graduated from Sacred Heart Cathedral High School in Duluth, MN. Before entering Maryknoll she worked for a few years doing bookkeeping and secretarial duties.

On October 5th, 1946 Joanne entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll, NY from (Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Parish-Duluth, MN). She made her First Profession of Vows on April 6th, 1949, at the Maryknoll Sisters Center and her Final Profession of Vows on the same date in 1952, also at the Sisters Center. 

 From 1948-1952, Sister Joanne studied at Maryknoll Teachers College, located on the property of the Sisters Center, there she earned a Bachelors’ Degree in Education. After receiving her Degree, she received her first overseas mission assignment to the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, where she taught on the islands of Yap and Koror for 59 years! Her duties varied during this time, teaching middle school aged students, serving as principal at St. Mary’s Elementary School (founded by the Maryknoll Sisters), and helping start a teachers training program which enabled the school administration to be ran entirely by Micronesians. 

In 1971, Sister Joanne studied the Palauan language and cultural customs of Yap. She then entered the field of religious education, becoming the Catechetical Coordinator of the entire island which had two parishes with nine churches, working with Church leadership for the next 40 years! During that time, she also helped foster the dream of creating a high school, serving on a task force which saw its completion, Yap Catholic High School was founded in 2011.

In 2011, Sister Joanne retired to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY. 

Funeral Arrangements: Sister Joanne’s body will be interred in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery. Her Funeral Mass will be livestreamed on 11/13/2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.