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Margaret O'Neill, CSJP (1920 - 2018)

Sister Margaret O’Neill felt a special bond with Mother Clare Cusack, the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace: in 1990, her biography, The Life of Mother Clare, was published, the culmination of several years of research and writing. Following in the footsteps of Mother Clare, Sister Margaret showed a special care for the needs and hopes of women as one of the co-founders of Jubilee Women’s Center.

Sister Margaret is one of our Canadian Sisters, born in North Augusta, Ontario on September 15, 1920. She entered the community in 1936 when she was only 15 years old and became a novice at 16 in Bellingham. As a young Sister, she was given Theresa Rose as her name in religion and sent out to teach.

Sister Margaret taught for almost 25 years in CSJP schools in Seattle, Bellevue, Longview, Mt. Vernon and Wenatchee, WA; Ketchikan, AK; Corvallis, OR; Van Nuys, CA; and Nelson, B.C. Most often, she taught 7th or 8th grades. She remembered with special affection teaching Peter Ely, now a distinguished Jesuit, at St. Therese School, Seattle, who will preside at her funeral. During those years, she earned a B.A. in Education from WWU and Masters in Education from Seattle U. Margaret felt called to continue learning, and in the early 1970s, she studied at Fordham University in New York, where she earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy while working as a Graduate Assistant at Brooklyn College.

In following years, Sister Margaret taught at Notre Dame University in Nelson, B.C. and at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. In the early 1980s, she volunteered at Sacred Heart Shelter, work that led her to become, along with St. Joseph of Peace Sisters Joan Leonard and Ann Wetherilt, one of the co-founders of Jubilee Women’s Center, a residence on Capitol Hill that responded to the growing need for housing that fit the needs of homeless women.

Later in the 1980s, Sister Margaret took up researching and writing the life of Mother Clare, a mission that led her to Ireland and connected her with others interested in the history of the Nun of Kenmare. Mother Clare’s lifelong championing of human rights and the rights of women was an especial bond for Sister Margaret. The book’s publication was one of the high points of Sr. Margaret’s life. In later years, Sister Margaret became a resident at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, Bellevue, WA, where she died on June 8, 2018.

Sister Margaret’s bond with Jubilee Women’s Center and with the life of Mother Clare was strengthened by her friendship with Susan Fox, former Executive Director of Jubilee Women’s Center and a CSJP Associate. She rejoiced in visits from her niece, Kathryn O’Neill. Sister Ida Mary MacAulay is a life-long friend. When she celebrated her 75th Jubilee of religious life, in 2012, Sister Margaret said, “As a member of the CSJP’s I have been constantly renewed in God’s love and have rejoiced in my calling to religious life . . . I am grateful for my lifetime of God’s blessings.

 

Margaret O'Neill, CSJP (1920 - 2018)

"The Spirit sounds herself in so many voices: sometimes Her whisper is persuasive and easy to follow; sometimes Her cry is fiery and threatening. But She must be listened to."

Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP