Sister Mary Redempta Scannell, Age 97

West Midwest

Sunday, June 7, 2020

After going to junior college, Marjorie Marie (the future Sister Redempta) enrolled in Mercy College of Nursing in Sacramento, California. One day, as a student nurse, she stopped in the hospital chapel and discovered four sisters kneeling in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Within her, she distinctly heard the words, “That’s the way I want to serve God.”

It didn’t take long to act on her call. After finishing the semester, Marjorie entered the community on July 19, 1943. Seven months later, she was received and given the name Sister Mary Redempta.

In spite of her training in nursing, Sister Redempta began her Mercy ministry life as a teacher of kindergarten and then second grade at St. Joseph Schools in Auburn, Sacramento and Redding, as well as Sacred Heart School, Sacramento. In 1954, she resumed her nursing training at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco.  

Sister Redempta returned to Sacramento in 1957 to serve as a staff nurse at Mercy General, where her natural administrative abilities and organizational skills quickly led to her becoming a nursing supervisor and later the director of nurses. After a brief period at Mercy Hospital in Redding, she was called back to Sacramento to serve as the director of education and training at the newly opened Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael.

Sister Redempta’s outreach ministry brought her into contact with persons from every walk of life, persons rejected and alone. None roused her compassion more than those who were HIV-positive or had AIDS. In 1986, working with the Sacramento Diocese, Sister Redempta became part of the newly formed HIV/AIDS interfaith network. In 1992, she began ministering to persons in the HIV/AIDS community through the Mercy AIDS Ministry Project. 

She said of those with HIV/AIDS, “They have no way to come to us, so we, as Sisters of Mercy, must go to them.” The booklet for her golden jubilee reflected her belief, “Jesus did not wait for those in need to find Him. Instead, He walked into places the saved did not go.”

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