“For me, all of my previous mission experiences have prepared me for working in hospice.”
Born in Munson, NY, Margaret “Marge” Kollmer entered Maryknoll in 1958 as a registered nurse from St. Catherine’s Hospital School of Nursing. She became certified in anesthesiology from St. Francis Hospital/Viterbo College, LaCrosse, WI, and was assigned to Korea in 1964.
Sister Marge set up an anesthesia department at Maryknoll Hospital, Pusan, and later gave an 18-month anesthesia course to post-graduate nurses. She worked with the government’s Ministry of Health & Social Affairs for certification of Korean nurse anesthetists. Sister Marge’s nursing skills also were used to serve the poor on islands near the Korean peninsula, and she often fulfilled health services for women workers and prison inmates. In Song Nam, she was a member of a basic ecclesial community team.
For five years, Sister Marge served as director of congregational health services for the Maryknoll Sisters. When she returned to Korea in 1989, she was asked to help set up a home care hospice program in Seoul for the Catholic social services agency. She also worked with a team whose services were non-denominational, offering direct home care, a bereavement program, and organized programs to help encourage hospice programs among the general public.
Returning to the United States in 1994 for family ministry, Sister Marge began to volunteer in hospice programs: one day her life changed with a phone call from Transfiguration Parish in Brooklyn, where a group had been planning to open a residence for homeless people living with AIDS. After meeting the team, she responded to their need for a registered nurse to be a part-time medical coordinator at Casa Betsaida. Sister Marge continued with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, working with hospice home care patients. “I have learned that hospice is assisting the person to live fully each moment of each day.”
In January 2011, Sister Marge left for a two-year assignment in Korea. She helped with hospice patients and served in a clinic for the poor, as well as teaching English to the aspirants and novices of the Sisters of Paul de Chartres.
In 2014, at the annual congress of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Sister Marge accepted the Hermi Lohnert Award for a lifetime of service in the nursing field.
She has been the Wellness Promoter at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, since February 2013.
Maryknoll Sisters Center