Sister M. Agatha Ann, CSC
(Mary Agatha Farrell)
December 30, 1923 – January 25, 2019
Entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Los Angeles, California on February 11, 1945
Initial Profession of Vows on August 15, 1947
Three days before her 21st birthday, Mary Agatha Farrell applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She was a civil service secretary working for the War Department in Los Angeles, California, in the last year of World War II. In response to a question about her motivation “for leaving the world,” she replied only, “I feel I have a vocation.” In 2001 she was less cryptic filling out another form, this time explaining why she wanted to apply for a sabbatical for spiritual renewal, “After 56 years as a Sister of the Holy Cross, having worked every year in a school, hospital, or parish, this opportunity would be a ‘first.’”
As Sister M. Agatha Ann, she began her ministry in elementary education in Catholic parochial schools in the post-war years, beginning in 1947 throughout California and Utah, moving from the classroom to the principal’s office. From 1970-1975, while principal, she earned her California license to direct day care-nursey schools. From 1975-1977, Sister was director of personnel in the Department of Education for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. During those years Sister also worked in special education in public schools in the Daly City School District. Anyone who saw her doing business over the phone, would have thought it all looked easy as she spoke with a broad smile. She had wonderful organizational skills, enjoyed being with people, was a good listener.
No wonder Sister Agatha Ann transitioned to pastoral care in 1977 at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah. Though she was there only a year, she returned to pastoral care and chaplaincy from 1991-1999 at Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center, North Hollywood, California. In the intervening years, 1978-1990, Sister ministered in several parishes working with the elderly in Southern California or in the Seattle area.
Sister Agatha Ann was also a religious superior in her congregation but was unpretentious in the role, whether as a local convent superior, a postulant formation assistant, or regional councilor. Many times, she was also filling other positions beyond the local convent. At the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1987, she was asked by a reporter in Tenino, Washington about priestly ordination for women. Agatha was never known as a firebrand, but with a shrug she reluctantly offered her viewpoint. “Here at St. Peter’s Mission, we minister as best we can as a group of women in the church. We can do that in so many ways. I would have no objection to women being ordained nor would I have any objection to a married clergy.” (The Olympian)
Sister retired first to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California in 2002, moving in 2011 to Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana where she died. Her older sister, Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), survives her at Saint Mary’s. Their fine Catholic parents, Louisa Hutson and Jeremiah Farrell, raised seven children in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Parish, where they were taught by Holy Cross Sisters.
You may wish to donate in Sister’s name to the Sisters of the Holy Cross Ministry with the Poor Fund at www.cscsisters.org Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements for services at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. with Visitation and 10:15 a.m. Prayers, Memento, and Mass of the Resurrection.