Sister Margaret Hennessey

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll NY

Sister Margaret was born March 13th, 1930 in Flushing, NY to Frances (McNally) and John F. Hennessey, she had 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

Sister Margaret entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation on October 31st, 1947 at Valley Park, MO having graduated from Bishop McDonnell High School in Brooklyn, NY the same year. Sister Margaret pronounced First Vows May 8th, 1950 at Valley Park and Final Vows, May 8th, 1953 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll,NY.  After having arrived at the Sisters Center she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Community Service in 1972 at Rogers College. She also earned an R.N. from St.Catherine’s Hospital School of Nursing in Brooklyn in 1953.

Sister Margaret’s first overseas assignment was 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 Sistershospital. In 1960 she was assigned to the town of Azangaro in the Altiplano of Peru, where she did home visiting and nursed in an out-patient clinic. After 3 years in Azangaro she moved to the town of Juli, Peru. There she did catechetical work as well as nursing in a government clinic. It was in Juli that she saw the need for health education and began to teach in the newly formed Rural Life Institute.

In 1971, Sister Margaret returned to the U.S. where she earned a B.A. in Community Service. Returning to Peru in 1972, she continued her nursing and health education as well as the training of Rural Life Promoters in the town of Ilave, also in the Altiplano area. In 1976 Sister Margaret moved to Lima, Peru, where she, along with Maryknoll Father Tom Garrity, founded the Peruvian Missionary Society. She continued formation work for the next 4 years in Villa El Salvador while becoming active in nursing those afflicted with tuberculosis. In 1984 Sister Margaret moved to the pueblo of Pachacamac in Lima where she again nursed tuberculosis patients, the #1 cause of death both among the poor of Lima and among women of childbearing age. She felt that tuberculosis was caused as much by poverty as by germs.

While living in Pachacamac some of her neighbors were afflicted with AIDS so she started to learn more about that recent disease. Over the last few years this had led to participation on a team that visited HIV/AIDS patients both at home and in the hospital. Sister Margaret formed part of a pastoral/medical team that worked with the poor and homeless and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Lima, Peru. Some of the team members prepared monthly retreat days for the patients. Sister Margaret continued to care for people with TB. It was in Lima that Sister Margaret began Health-Life and Hope, a group that helped members overcome ignorance, isolation and despair.

In 2012 Sister Margaret returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY where she is in semi-retirement.