Sr. Mary Felix McKenna 1923-2012 - ‘The Flying Nun’

Sr. Mary Felix – or Peggy as she was known to her family and close friends – was born on 16th March 1923 to John and Mary McKenna of Main Street, Manorhamilton.

Sr. Mary Felix – or Peggy as she was known to her family and close friends – was born on 16th March 1923 to John and Mary McKenna of Main Street, Manorhamilton.

She was the third eldest of seven children. At the early age of thirteen she decided to enter the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement in nearby Rossinver.

After having completed her postulancy, she received the nuns’ habit and spent the next twelve years of her life there. In 1949 Sr. Felix went to the Sisters’ Mother House at Graymoor, Garrison, New York where she took her final vows.

Over the course of the following twenty years or so she ministered in Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Michigan and New York City. Sr. Felix came back to Ireland in 1973 to care for her elderly mother before returning two years later to Graymoor where she would spend the remaining thirty-seven years of her life.

Her principal ministry involved the religious education of children in public schools and the visitation of patients in hospitals and nursing homes, but she also worked with disadvantaged and disabled children, and operated a clothing store for the homeless.

Despite being restricted by serious health problems, she had boundless energy and was described as the ‘Flying Nun’ as a result of her endless pursuits. The Manor born nun led pilgrimages from the U.S. to Knock, organised Rosary cruises on the Hudson River in Upstate New York and became a pioneer in the area of recycling of glass and plastic in Peekskill in the early 1990s.

She became very well known in that city and was selected to serve as Grand Marshal of its St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1993. Blessed with an outgoing personality and a fine sense of humour, she was also a great believer in the power of prayer.

Consequently, she did not entertain words such as problems and obstacles, but merely saw challenges to be overcome. Sr. Mary Felix died peacefully at Graymoor on 2nd August 2012 – just months after the death of her friend and fellow Manorhamilton native, Sr. Malachy O’Brien.

She was predeceased by her sister Maureen (Rooney) and brothers Jack and Fr. Peter, and is survived by her brothers Fr. Joe and Hugh and her many nieces and nephews.