Sister Ruth Marie O’Donnell

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY

Sister Ruth Marie O'DonnellRuth Marie O’Donnell was born August 20, 1927 in Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada to Hazel P. (Kirwin) and Thomas Leonard O’Donnell. She had one sister, Noreen and one brother, James. Ruth Marie graduated from St. Patrick’s High School in Port Arthur in 1945. In 1946, after 10 years of studies she earned a Certificate in Music from the Toronto Conservatory of Music and in 1950, a Diploma in Pharmacy from the Ontario College of Pharmacy.

Ruth Marie entered Maryknoll at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY in 1951. She pronounced First Vows March 7, 1954 at the Center and Final Vows March 7, 1960 in Hong Kong. Her first assignment found her in the Bronx teaching seventh grade for a year. Then, in 1955, she was assigned to Hawaii, where she eagerly continued her educational ministry by teaching high school religion, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Three years later, in 1958, Sister Ruth Marie was assigned to the Hong Kong/Macau Region, where, after language study, she helped to establish a pharmacy at the Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

In 1969, Sister returned to the U.S. to work 1969-‘71 in Bethany, at that time the Sisters retirement and health care facility, before beginning a twenty year ministry, 1973-’93, in Boston’s Chinatown. During these years of dedicated love and service, Sister did catechetical and pastoral work, served as the recording secretary of the Chinese-American Civic Association, presided as a board member of the South Core YMCA, and joined the CACA Multi-Service Advisory Community and Adult Education Community.  She was also a Charter member of Pagoda Park Recreational Development and an Administrator of the Maryknoll Boston Chinatown Center, which, among other services, offered English classes to immigrants in the hopes of aiding their transition to life in the U.S.  In 1987, Sister Ruth Marie also involved herself in a Bio-Safety Committee at Tufts University, working with recombinant DNA.

Sister retired to Monrovia, CA, in 1993 and returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY one year later.  There she taught piano and contributed her love and prayers to her beloved Maryknoll until she became a member of the retirement community in the late 1900’s.