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Sister Noreen Dennehy, MFIC: November 19, 1920-September 22, 2017

Originally Appeared in : 9721-10/12/17

Sister Noreen Dennehy was born on November 19, 1920 to John Dennehy and Mary Ann O’Brien, in Mauntenane, Killoughlin, Co. Kerry, Ireland. She had three brothers and three sisters: Margaret, Michael, Patrick, Nancy, Bernadette and John.

Sister Noreen Dennehy was born on November 19, 1920 to John Dennehy and Mary Ann O’Brien, in Mauntenane, Killoughlin, Co. Kerry, Ireland. She had three brothers and three sisters: Margaret, Michael, Patrick, Nancy, Bernadette and John.

 

At the tender age of 17, on February 23, 1938, Noreen entered the Community of Missionary Franciscan Sisters in Bloomfield. Then two years later, shortly after pronouncing her first vows, Noreen was sent to the Mother House in Rome, Italy. This was a very significant ministry that spanned 1940 to 1965 with one year back in Bloomfield in 1955. She was there during the years of World War II and was involved with the hiding of the Jews and Allied troops in the order's Mother House. She knew and worked with the brave Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty who rescued over 6,500 people in and around Vatican City during the German occupation of Rome.

 

Noreen and several of the sisters, who were in Rome at the time, often told the story of providing food and clothing, as well as doing laundry and cleaning to help care for the Jews hiding in the Generalate.

 

In 1965, Noreen came to the United States and began another ministry in East Boston, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The Community published a religious magazine called The Annals of Our Lady which was renewed each year by direct visit to the customers. The sisters who performed this ministry often listened to the stories and sufferings of the people and offered to remember them in prayer. For eight years Noreen worked with other sisters in carrying out this arduous mission in all kinds of weather. Only God knows the amount of good done to those who subscribed to the magazine.

 

A move to Yonkers, New York, initiated another new ministry for Noreen. She received a certificate of health care, qualifying her to care for the “convalescent, the aged, the young and the newborn.” Several notes of thanks were among her papers, praising her for the compassion and care she shared especially with the elderly.

 

Traveling to Augusta, Georgia, in 1986, Noreen embarked on the mission and ministry of the Social Apostolate. Serving the needs of the poor and working for the rights of migrants was her calling and crusade. She advocated for migrant workers in South Carolina who were being abused by landowners who refused to pay wages and housed the migrants in deplorable conditions. Sister Noreen was interviewed by Tom Brokaw on the TV show “60 Minutes” where she testified to the deplorable situation. 

 

From 1986 to 2006, Noreen continued ministering in Georgia. She is remembered fondly by clients and sisters, as well, for her sweet disposition and hard labor. Yet, she had a fun side to her life. She enjoyed singing and dancing and even participated in shows. Visiting her family was energizing to her and travel was a great relaxing experience.

 

Then, at age 86, she retired to Newton, Massachusetts, but remained active in the household chores. In 2008 she moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, to form community and begin the awesome ministry of prayer for all in need. For nine years Noreen has been a kind presence to all in Tenafly: pleasant, grateful and joyful. With her niece Josephine Weir keeping her company and several sisters praying at her bedside, Noreen was taken Home to the Lord on Friday September 22, 2017, as gently as she had cared for others. May she be at rest and continue to sing and dance in the company of God and all her friends and Sisters. 

 

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