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Sister Mary Siena (Ann Elizabeth Kennedy)

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 01/02/2021

Sr. Mary Siena smsm

August 6th, 1926 – February 1st, 2021


SMSM SistersAnn Elizabeth Kennedy was born in Elmira, New York, on August 6th, 1926, one of six children born to Clarence R. Kennedy of Brooklyn, NY, and Rose A. Cosgrove from Elmira.  After graduating from High School, she entered the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary on February 15th, 1945, at Bedford, MA. She made her first vows there on August 15th, 1947 and was assigned to the community at Isabella Street in Boston. Two years later she was sent to train as a nurse at St John’s Hospital in Lowell, MA, and obtained her Nursing Registration in 1952. 

Sr. Siena was one of many Sisters of those years who were inspired by the life of Fr. Damien of Molokai, who had given his life in the service of the victims of leprosy in Hawaii, and she was happy to receive, as her first mission assignment, the “destination” of Makogai in Fiji. In those days Makogai was the central hospital for people who had leprosy and were from those islands that were British colonies or protectorates in the Pacific.   The patients who were well enough would establish small villages around the island, where they could speak their own language and follow, as far as possible, their customs.  Once they became too unwell to stay in the villages, they were brought into the central hospital.  Our Sisters served mainly in the hospital, but some went on horseback to visit people in the villages. Sr. Mary Siena served there from 1953 to 1959, including an interval in 1956 at Korovou, near Suva, which was then called the leprosy “sub-station” - a place for new patients to wait for transport to Makogai, or who for some reason needed to stay there for a time.  Makogai was closed as a center for the treatment of leprosy in the late 1960’s, when new treatments for leprosy had been developed and isolation was no longer considered necessary.  But for Sr Siena, and many other Sisters, Makogai was the “highlight” of their missionary lives.

During those years, Sr Siena served not only as a nurse, but at times as a physiotherapist and X-ray technician.  She was also an accomplished artist and taught some of her patients how to do “finger painting” in which they could create beautiful scenes of nature with just stubs of fingers and the hair on their arms. The most successful of these was Semisi Maya whose paintings were sold to tourists for many years.

Sr Siena returned to the USA for her “Second Novitiate” and a home visit in 1962.  When she returned to Fiji, she was stationed at Korovou again, and then at St Mary’s, our central house in Suva, in 1969.  During these years she taught part-time (Arts and Crafts and Health Science) at Corpus Christi Teachers College.

In 1971 Sr Siena took on the role of “project manager” for the construction of a new hostel for young women in Suva that would be run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth and was called “Bethany Hostel”. It was a response to a great need and is still in operation today.

From January to July in 1972, Sr. M. Siena had the unique experience of helping out at the most remote hospital our Sisters staffed – a 4 bed hospital in the Chatham Islands – 500 miles east of the South Island of New Zealand. 

She returned to the USA in 1973 for her “home visit” and was then asked to help in the establishment of a new mission for the SMSM – in Memphis, Tennessee.  She was there from May to August 1974, helping the new community to get established.

Sr Siena returned to Fiji in 1976 and taught English at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Suva.  In 1980 she returned to the USA and was transferred to her home province.  In Boston she began serving as a Chaplain at Massachusetts General hospital (1980 - ‘85). 

To be better qualified for her work as a chaplain, Sr Siena obtained her B.Sc. in psychology from St Joseph’s College in 1983 and later undertook studies for her Masters in Theological Studies at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1986-’88).  She also joined the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

In August 1988 she was missioned to Jamaica. When she returned to the USA in 1989, she became Director of Pastoral Care at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, MA. (1989-1996).  In 1997 she was missioned to the Rocky Creek Village in Tampa, Florida, where there was an SMSM community.  There she spent several hours a week tutoring small children with reading and also became a Director of Activities in the Village.

In 2009, Sr Siena was back in Massachusetts at our Newton St. community in Waltham.  Her health was becoming more frail.  After a few days in Newton-Wellesley Hospital in September 2011, she was admitted to St Patrick’s Manor, a nursing home in Framingham MA, where she received very good care and seemed to be content.  In recent years it became more difficult to communicate, but she always had a smile for those who visited her. 

Over the course of her lifetime, Sr. Mary Siena sought to respond to the call of God and to the needs of people in so many ways, in so many different situations.  In her last ten years especially, we can see that she lived this mystery expressed in our Constitutions:

24.Called to live the paschal mystery
in times of suffering, sickness and old age
as well as in times of success, health and activity,
we always share in the mission of the congregation.

May she rest in peace.

Gratefully in Mary,  


Sister Helen Muller, smsm                                                        Sister Virginia Fornasa, smsm

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