Sister Mary Ignatius Kerrigan of the Holy Cross

August 6, 1931 – September 12, 2017

MaryIgnPicAnne Kerrigan was born to the parents of Ann McLaughlin and John Kerrigan who had immigrated from Ireland settling in Brooklyn, New York. Anita, as she was affectionately called at home, was baptized on August 23, 1931 at St. Theresa’s Parish and later was confirmed there as well. She had one sister, Marie, whom she loved dearly and she spoke often and fondly of her nephew and niece. She belonged to the Angel Cenacle, Junior Cenacle and then the MCA during her younger years. She attended Catherine McAuley High School and after graduation worked as a bookkeeper/typist for several years before entering the community.

In November of 1951, Anita wrote to Mother Mary Francis to ask permission to apply and enter in February of 1952. She said she had been thinking and praying about this for a long time and felt God was calling her to be a Missionary Servant. Her pastor, Fr. Tully, wrote,

“Possessing the necessary dispositions of heart, mind and body, she has the aptitude for religious life along with the accompanying attraction and inclination toward that life. I am certain that she will be a real credit and asset to the Missionary Servants of the most Blessed Trinity.”

Anita entered the community on February 11, 1952 and was sent to Phenix City Alabama for the first 5 months of her postulancy. She arrived in Philadelphia in July to continue her postulancy and began her novitiate on August 15 of that same year and received the name, Sr. Mary Ignatius of the Holy Cross. One year later she professed First Vows on August 15, 1953. On March 25, 1957, she made her Profession of Final Vows.

Sister’s ministry throughout her years has been teaching. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree through St. Bernard College in Cullman, Alabama in 1969 and her Masters Degree from Temple University in 1972 taking classes at night or during summer breaks from school. And, she was always keeping up with ongoing education to maintain her teaching license.

Her missions included St. Patrick School, Phenix City AL where she taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Between 1957 to 1962 she moved north first to New Castle, PA where she taught kindergarten for 2 years then on to Norfolk, VA where she taught Religious Education and special education classes. In 1962 she returned to St. Patrick’s School for the next 6 years. She was then missioned to Kiln Mississippi to teach at Annunciation School which she found very difficult adapting to this very rural area, after one year she asked to ‘please’ be assigned closer to civilization-preferably in the North. So in 1969 she was assigned to Holy Redeemer School, Philadelphia, PA where she served over the next 23 years first as teacher then as Principal for 11 years. She loved her ministry among the Chinese community. In her reflections on her ministry she wrote, “My call to ministry has always been to ‘save the child, you save all’ I believe I have this opportunity.” In 1992, following a study by the Archdiocese with Sr. Mary Ignatius as part of this committee, it was determined that our ministry at Holy Redeemer as a missionary community was complete. On August 22, 1992 we left this mission- Sr. Siena Marie wrote, “after the Angelus had rung Sr. Mary Ignatius (along with Sr. Thomas Mary, Sr. Jeanne Margaret and myself) locked the door at the Cenacle and the gate of the schoolyard and drove away.”

Sister was not inclined to take a sabbatical at this time; rather she went on to serve as principal at Queen of the Universe School in Levittown, Pa and came to live at the Motherhouse. A bit spent by the demands of being principal she went on to West Catholic as Director of Admissions and enjoyed working with the students, in a different capacity than teaching, she continued in this ministry for eleven years. Realizing her increasing physical limitations, she left that ministry and went on to part-time ministry in the tutoring of students through CORA Services. She also found herself with a side ministry to the residents of Mary Immaculate Nursing Home as she attended Mass there frequently.

Over her 65 years in community Sr. Mary Ignatius served on the Culture and Ministry ad hoc committee and on the On-Going Development committee. She was among those who requested permission to participate in the experimenting with different attire from the garb. She made the Oasis Retreat and the Spiritual Exercises. She faithfully participated in community meetings and gatherings.

As her health declined over the last several years, she valiantly kept as active as possible. Her mystery of the Holy Cross took on new significance as she reluctantly let go of her tutoring ministry and was missioned to Mother Boniface Cenacle at Wesley and the Ministry of Prayer.

Sr. Mary Ignatius, we thank you for your many years of loving service to saving the child in God’s name. I am sure he is welcoming you with open arms saying ‘well done good and faithful servant of the Most Blessed Trinity’.