SISTER MARGARET MORAN
Sister Margaret Moran looked upon her life as a journey. She closed her autobiography with these words: “I fully realize that the Spirit of God has been with me every moment of my joyous journey.” This short sentiment reveals much about her.
William and Mae (Kennedy) Moran, Sister Margaret’s parents, were both natives of Port Austin, Michigan. Both were of Irish heritage. Their ancestors had left Ireland following the potato famine, and settled in the Thumb of Michigan. William Moran was familiar with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, since he had attended the parish school that opened in 1879, St. Michael School.
After their marriage the Morans made their home in Port Austin. Margaret, their oldest child, was born there on November 18, 1917, followed by a brother (Harry) and a sister (Dorothy). St. Michael School had closed in 1899, and there was no other Catholic school available, so the Moran youngsters attended a public school and learned about their religion from their parents, their pastor, and from summer catechetical classes held by the Adrian Dominicans.
Several sisters from both the Adrian and Grand Rapids Congregations came from homes in the Thumb, and Margaret met some of them on their home visits. She was greatly attracted to the white habit. She also met the IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary) sisters, and liked the blue habit, but decided that she didn’t want to wear the high shoes that were part of their garb at that time.
When she graduated from the Port Austin Public High School in June 1935, she registered at St. Joseph College in Adrian (now Siena Heights University). Before long, she knew that she wanted to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation. In her autobiography, she mentioned her fondness for the sisters, especially for Sister Benedicta Marie Ledwidge, Dean of the College and religion teacher. Her father, however, was opposed to her entrance, so she registered for another year as a student at the college.
After making a retreat, she entered the postulate on February 4, 1937. It is interesting to note that she received the postulant’s veil from Sister Benedicta Marie. She received the habit and her religious name (Sister Rose William) on August 23, and after the required canonical novitiate year, she and her group professed their first vows on August 24, 1938.
Within a short time of profession, Sister Margaret was in a car for Detroit, where she taught on the primary level at St. Theresa School for five years. The future Sisters Shirley Cushing and Gloria Kelly were students at St. Theresa. At Sister Margaret’s wake, Sister Gloria said, “She was teaching third grade. I was a hall guard, and I made it a point to be on her floor so that I could see her. She was little, and so cute.”
During the summers Sister Margaret continued her studies at Siena Heights College, and in August 1940, she received a bachelor’s degree with a major in history and minors in philosophy, French, and English.
The next seventeen years were in Chicago: a year at St. Kilian, where she taught eighth grade for a year; and sixteen years at St. Laurence, where she taught for ten years, and served as superior and principal for the last six years. Two major events occurred during that time. In August 1948, De Paul University awarded her a master’s degree in education with a minor in history, and in August 1951, her mother died. Sister Margaret wrote, “That was a difficult experience, and it was not easy to know that my father was left alone.” She also wrote, “My years in Chicago were special, and I have fond memories of many beautiful sisters who taught at St. Laurence School or spent the summer there while attending Loyola or De Paul University.”
In 1960, she returned to Michigan, where she spent the balance of her religious life. She served as superior and principal at St. Mary in Royal Oak for a year, then was assigned as school supervisor with her residence at Rosary High School in Detroit. Travel was a “must” in this assignment, and she saw much of Ohio, New York, and Michigan. She also served on the Ohio curriculum committee. After eight years in this demanding ministry, she became principal for ten years at Guardian Angels School in Clawson. In 1973, she returned to Port Austin for her father’s funeral.
Her summers were not idle during these years. After studying at the University of Dayton, Ohio, she taught there, taught a workshop in Adrian for superiors, served as a delegate at the 1968 General Chapter, and served on the Interim Chapter Commission.
She had been doing some summer study in pastoral ministry, and in 1979, she left the classroom and became pastoral associate at St. Joan of Arc Parish in St. Clair Shores, a position that she held for eighteen years. In 1982, her expertise as a pastoral minister was heightened when she received a certificate from the Archdiocese of Detroit. She wrote:
She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1987, and a large picture and words of appreciation from three priests appeared in the parish bulletin. Father Charles wrote:
When she celebrated her sixtieth year as an Adrian Dominican, another article about her appeared in the parish bulletin. In it was a description of her ministry:
In 1997, Sister Margaret retired and moved into Oakwood Park Towers in Troy, where Sister Gloria also lived. At the wake Sister Gloria said, “She enjoyed life there. She got involved with some of the older ladies … There were happy times, sad times, and difficult times … We would put our difficulties in God’s hands.”
Sister Margaret died at Troy Beaumont Hospital on May 5, 2006. She was eighty-eight years of age, and had been an Adrian Dominican for almost sixty-eight years.
Her wake was held on May 7 in St. Catherine Chapel. Present were her sister Dorothy Heinen; her sister-in-law Marianne; many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews; Father Martin Winters, a longtime friend; and her numerous Dominican friends.
Sister Peg O’Flynn, Prioress of Great Lakes Dominican Mission Chapter, welcomed those who had come to bid Sister Margaret farewell, and extended sympathy. She summarized Sister Margaret’s life and ministry, and spoke of Sister Margaret’s sense of responsibility, the fact that her autobiography and other reports due in the Chapter Office were always there on time.
Sister Gloria Kelly said:
Sister Shirley Cushing also spoke.
Sister Margaret’s niece, Kitty Murphy, spoke for the family.
Sister Celestine Dunne praised Sister Margaret as a competent and kind administrator.
Father Martin Winters also spoke.
Sister Margaret’s funeral liturgy was celebrated on May 8, 2006, in St. Catherine Chapel. Father Roland Calvert, OSFS, was the presider and homilist. Father Michael Bugarin of St. Joan Parish concelebrated. Among his remarks, Father Calvert said:
Father Bugarin was also a newly ordained priest when he met Sister Margaret some years ago, and he gave a short remembrance after Communion. Father said in part:
Father Calvert said, “Sister Margaret has gone to God in the springtime of the year as color and beauty return to the earth.” With her God and the loved ones who preceded her, she is now enjoying the color and beauty of eternity.