Sister Mary Annel M.M. Maryknoll Sister for 66 Years, Dies

Maryknoll, NY: Sister Mary Annel, M.M. died on April 14th, 2024 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 84 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 66 years.

On December 6th, 1939, Mary Virginia Annel was born in Chicago, IL to George Annel and Iola Grelck Annel.  She had two sisters; all of whom have predeceased her.

From 1953 – 1957, Mary attended Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst, IL.   She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree, Pre-med from the College of Mt. St. Vincent in 1967 in New York City.  In 1971, she received her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.   She attended the University of Southern California (USC) Medical Complex, in a rotating internship program from 1971-1972. She then attended Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she earned a M.A. in Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1973.

Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters in Valley Park, MO on December 30th, 1957 (from her home parish in St. Domitilla in Hillside, IL).  She pronounced her First Profession of Vows on August 22nd, 1960 in Valley Park, MO and her Final Vows on August 22nd, 1966 also in Valley Park, MO.

In 1973, Sister Mary received her first mission assignment to the Mexico-Guatemala Region. After studying the language in Cuernavaca, Mexico she was assigned to Jacaltenango, Huehuetenango, Guatemala working in the Diocesan Hospital and coordinating public health programs until 1988.

On June 15th, 1981 Sister Mary received the George O. Tolbert International Health Award. This award recognizes attributes of compassion, generosity, service, sensitivity, love and concern for others, and the pursuance of excellence.

From 1988-1991, Sister Mary engaged in mission education in the Midwest U.S.

In 1992, she led an investigation and analysis of data from the Maryknollers’ worldwide HIV & AIDS ministry resulting in a document: Worldwide Trends in AIDS and Recommendations for future Maryknoll Sisters’ AIDS Ministry.

Sister Mary then was assigned to El Salvador in 1993 and became the impulse behind the Catholic Church’s commitment to the HIV & AIDS ministry. She initiated the Archdiocesan Aids team, which evolved into an NGO and named the Salvadoran Foundation for the Fight Against AIDS Maria Lorena, which she cofounded with Sr. Lorraine Beinkafner.  It is credited with stemming the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country. Familiarly known as ContraSIDA (Against AIDS).

In 2005, Sister Mary was presented with the National Catholic HIV/AIDS Network’s Lumina Award for her work in El Salvador.

In 2011, she was the recipient of The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Humanitarian Award and cited healthier rural communities as her most significant success.

In 2018, Sister Mary returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to retire. In 2019 she was transferred to the Maryknoll Sisters Home Care Unit until her death.

Funeral Services:

A Vespers Service was held for Sister Mary Annel on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.

 A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Wednesday, April 24th, 2024 at 10:00 A.M. at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.