“My call to Maryknoll has opened up life, relationships, experiences, challenges, heartaches and heart-fullness in ways I never could have hoped or imagined. What makes it worthwhile is that I am in love with God and this relationship gives meaning to who I am and what I do.”
Mary Anne O’Donnell was born in St. Albans, NY, and worked as a secretary in New York City before joining Maryknoll in 1953. She was secretary to the Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers four years and then studied at Maryknoll Teachers College.
In 1964 Sister Mary Anne was assigned to Africa where for seven years she helped pioneer, as administrator and teacher, the Shinyanga Commercial Institute in Tanzania, a business school for young Tanzanian men and women. The student-edited paper described her: “She is all in one. Seated in the office, Sister is principal of the Institute; on the trip to Songwa Dam for the picnic, Sister is our driver; on some Saturday evenings Sister is an elegant waltzer to Congolese music….”
In 1975 Sister Mary Anne and Father Jack Sullivan were appointed Directors of the Maryknoll Lay Missioner Program to recruit and train lay people for mission. Of this experience, Mary Anne said, “I feel a part of the whole Church in mission – priests, Brothers, Sisters and lay people and this is energizing, enriching and hopeful for the future.” In 2010, she was presented with a plaque inscribed: “The Maryknoll Lay Missioners on their 35th anniversary honors Mary Anne O’Donnell for her dedication to sending laity to overseas mission and for her work on the First Lay Mission Coordinating Team.”
Sr. Mary Anne has served as Congregational Personnel Director, Center Coordinator, and General Assembly Task Force member. Sister Mary Anne serves in our out-patient care department, where she drives Sisters to appointments.