Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Angels In Our Midst (Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan)

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 07:08 PM CDT
Almost five decades ago a young, energetic woman arrived in Pensacola from New Jersey.
She had been sent by her order on a mission to do the work of an Angel In Our Midst.

Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan, I started across the street to the high school.  I got half way across and I put my book bag down on the ground.  And Joe Morris, little Morris' son, came running across.  "Sister, you forgot your book bag."  "I didn't forget it.  I was just reminding you of your manners."  and that's the first they saw of me.

That was Sister Maureen Kirwan's introduction to the students at St. Joseph Catholic Church's segregated school 48 years ago.  She was the nun sent by the Sisters of Charity to Pensacola to teach and to serve the parish.

Marian Maxey, St. Joseph's Youth Director;  "first of all, I can tell you this, she's a wonderful person.  She's very good with kids."

Lily Townsend, St. Joseph Parishioner;  "she just brought a wonderful, friendly atmosphere to us.  I mean, she became part of the church family.  She wasn't distant at all."

Sister Maureen developed a very close bond with her students.  When integration came, she still felt a need to watch over her children.

Lily Townsend, St. Joseph Parishioner;  "when they closed this school and the kids moved to Catholic High, she felt obligated to go to Catholic High with them; as a protector really."

Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan,  48 years at St. Joseph;  "I think that it was a smooth transition.  And, of course, we had the basketball players."

She was just as close to the Parish families; developing personal ties and ministering to their needs. They've marveled at her energy and her devotion.

Lily Townsend, St. Joseph Parishioner;  "Sister Maureen is like the energizing bunny.  She has been here all these years.  She knows all the families.  She's there when we have happy things going on.  She's also there when we have sadness."

Sister always had collateral duties while she was teaching.  She was Catholic charities' refugee and immigration coordinator.  She oversaw the Catholic sharing appeal.  "and" was head of religious education.

"Generally, just whatever needed to be done, I was here."

Still, just like she does today, she made time for home visits; checking on the sick and shut in and bringing comfort and laughter.

She was a strawberry blonde.

Sister Maureen has brought a lot of laughter over the years; like the time she went with the choir to Rome to sing for the pope.
Lily Townsend, St. Joseph Parishioner;  "somewhere between Newark and Italy, we joined the inspirational choir.  And on the way back, we resigned somewhere between Italy and Newark."

Lily Townsend, St. Joseph Parishioner;  "she also loves to dance.  I don't know if she told you that earlier.  And years ago, when the electric slide came out and we were learning the electric slide, she was one of the first people on line."

Now sister's steps have grown a little slower and she recently found herself at home alone, on the floor.  She needs to go back to the sisters in New Jersey to retire.

Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan,  "I have two artificial knees.  I'm having trouble with my hips.  I've had my eyes done.  I said, well, it's time."

Marian Maxey, St. Joseph's youth director; "I'm just going to miss her personality a whole lot and just sitting down talking to her about a lot of things."

Lily Townsend, St. Joseph parishioner;  "she's been my friend.  She's been more than the nun."

Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan, "they're a great group of people.  I'm leaving family."

Angels In Our Midst is brought to you by the children's hospital at Sacred Heart.
Angels In Our Midst (Sister Maureen Joseph Kirwan)

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