Profile: Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin


Dr. Margaret McMenamin

I was asked recently, “Why do I give to the Sisters?” I have spent some time thinking about that question and I will try to describe why in a few short words.

Well, two of my aunts were members of the IHM Scranton Congregation. When I was growing up, I did not think much about their lives or their work. It was not until the summer of 1979 when I needed a place to stay in New York City while doing an internship that I first began to learn about the remarkable women who are members of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Sr Clare Marie McMenamin, IHM

I remember reaching out to my aunt—Sister Clare Marie, IHM. She introduced me to Sister Eleanor Marie. Sister Eleanor Marie was the Superior at the 33rd Street Convent in NYC. Before I knew it, I was walking into the Convent, meeting the sisters, and starting my clinical down the street. I had a memorable three weeks at 33rd street. I think I drove Sister Eleanor Marie crazy. I did, however, get an inside view of life in the Convent and the dedicated people who are a witness to the presence of God in our world. I learned about the importance of hospitality from Sister Eleanor Marie.

Sr. M Susan McMenamin, IHM

After my other aunt—Sister M. Susan, IHM—retired from teaching music and joined the prayer ministry at The Marian Convent, she invited me to go to The Marian and do some volunteer work with Sister Ann Walsh in the Physical Therapy department there. That invitation changed me, my life, and my perspective on the Sisters. I spent two summers in the late 1990s volunteering at The Marian. I had the good fortune to meet many brilliant, kind, inspirational, and spiritual women. I listened and learned and shared stories. I heard firsthand accounts of their journeys and their work. I heard stories about the novitiate and the great fire at Marywood.

Sister Rosemary Goulet and Sister St. Mel Wright were the administrators at The Marian back then. I did my work while quietly watching them lead. I marveled at the manner in which they adeptly managed that very unique facility. I learned about compassionate leadership from Sisters Rosemary and St. Mel.

Among the highs that I experienced at The Marian was getting to know Sister Ann Michael and Sister Angelus. Sister Angelus was a resident there. For some reason we connected. She loved me and I loved her. I remember sneaking a glass of port wine into her room for a sip one night. Sister Angelus taught me how to handle suffering and adversity with grace.

Sister Ann Michael was a memorable fixture at The Marian during those days. She ran the kitchen, supervising scores of young servers and staff. She also gave haircuts in her “free time.” She was full of energy, hardworking, and dedicated. She was like a bright and shining light for me and many others at The Marian. I learned about the importance of kindness from Sister Ann Michael.

My Aunts, Sister Ann Michael, Sister Angelus, and many of the others may be long gone but their legacy and their impact will live on in those of us who were taught and shaped by the Sisters.

I donate to the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary because I can see all the good that has come from their selfless commitment to the communities that they served. I recognize that my life and our world has been made a better place because of their work, what they have taught us, and the love of God that they shared with all of us.

--- Margaret M. McMenamin, Ed.D., serves as President of Union College of Union County, New Jersey.