Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Michael Alexander
Sister Margaret McAnoy, left, shared a laugh with Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III, during her 2019 retirement gathering at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Chancery. Sister Margaret died Dec. 14 in Monroe, Michigan at the IHM Senior Living Community.


Sister Margaret McAnoy remembered for five decades of service in Atlanta

Published December 19, 2023

MONROE, Michigan—Sister Margaret McAnoy, IHM, died Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the IHM Senior Living Community, Monroe, Michigan. She was 89 years old and served in various ministries in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for 50 years.

Margaret Anne McAnoy was born in March 1934, in Detroit, Michigan, to parents Thomas and Anne (Conlon) McAnoy. Her parents had emigrated from the United Kingdom. Like her siblings, Margaret attended St. Gregory Grade School and graduated from St. Gregory High School in Detroit. That summer, following her older sister JoAnn, she entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe and received the religious name Thomas Edward.

In 1969, Sister Margaret moved to Georgia and took a position teaching at Rosalie House in Norcross, just outside of Atlanta. While planning to be in Atlanta for only 10 years, this began five decades of ministry in the Atlanta area. She served on the faculty of St. Pius X High School and as principal and administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes School. She then went into spiritual direction, administration and chaplaincy for the archdiocese, Portsbridge Hospice and Saint Joseph Hospital.

Sister Margaret McAnoy is pictured in the 1971 yearbook for St. Pius X High School, where she served as a teacher.

As a young sister, she taught elementary students in Michigan at St. John, Jackson, St.  Michael, and St. John, Monroe, and Blessed Sacrament, Detroit. She was also missioned to St. Felicitas, Chicago, Illinois. She often remarked that she enjoyed teaching students of all ages. Her studies were completed at Marygrove College, earning both a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Arts in Education.

Her most recent work was Vicar of Religious for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. This liaison position supports all religious ministering within the archdiocese, representing about 30 communities. Prior to her appointment as Vicar, she was the spiritual director of the Cursillo Movement and Office for 10 years.

So engaged with the people of Atlanta, Sister Margaret was named “Person of the Year” by The Georgia Bulletin in 1981. She was also involved in permanent diaconate formation and was a member of the steering committee for Atlanta’s Eucharistic Congress.

One of Sister Margaret’s favorite experiences in Atlanta was at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There, she spent more than seven years involved with Tuesday Evenings at the Shrine, a fellowship ministry for those living with AIDS. She spoke fondly of those she met and how many people it took to put the Tuesday evening sit-down dinners together.

“It was one of the most enriching ministries that I’ve ever had,” she told The Georgia Bulletin in an interview.

At her retirement party at the Atlanta Chancery in 2019, Father John Kieran called Sister Margaret an “extraordinary blessing to the archdiocese.”

“She’s been a very strong religious sister and friend,” said Father Kieran.

Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Margaret McAnoy served more than 50 years in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Her first assignment was chair of the religion department at St. Pius X High School, Atlanta. Sister Margaret later was archdiocesan vicar for religious. She died Dec. 14. Photo By Michael Alexander

On the occasion of her 60th jubilee in 2013, Sister Margaret acknowledged that women had more career options than ever before but that families could still encourage religious life or work for their children.

“I think parents have a great role in fostering vocations,” she said.

In 2011, Sister Margaret wrote an Advent reflection in the archdiocesan newspaper, sharing that Advent is a time to look at how “we sometimes choose to open the door of our heart to Christ and how, sometimes, we choose not to open the door” amid the busyness of the season.

“The Eucharist gives us the comfort to rest in the arms of Christ and be comforted when all around us seems to be chaotic,” she wrote. “The Eucharist comforts us when there is mourning in our lives and the way seems hopeless. For me, Advent always brings me to Eucharist.”

Maggie Rousseau, director of the Disabilities Ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, developed a close friendship with Sister Margaret after offering to be her chauffeur to and from work at the Chancery. During the car rides, Rousseau said they talked about everything—the past, present, and where the church needed to be in the future. 

“We came from similar backgrounds, just many years between us. We talked about teaching methods and strategies, ministry and leadership and the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit which tend to come when you need them most,” said Rousseau.  

The two had much in common including being from “meat and potato” families and sharing the name Margaret. They laughed a lot during those car rides.  

“Sister Margaret cherished her family—her sisters and brother,” remembers Rousseau. “She cherished her friends in Atlanta, especially those made through Cursillo.” 

Rousseau said that retirement from the Atlanta Archdiocese was heartbreaking for Sister Margaret because it meant leaving her longtime best friend and housemate in Atlanta, Sister Louise Sommer. At the same time, Sister Margaret looked forward to serving her sisters in Michigan. 

“In times past we taught that having a relationship with God meant knowing God; loving God; serving God; and being with him in eternal life. Sister Margaret lived that lesson,” said Rousseau. 

Sister Margaret enjoyed travel, visiting with family and friends and playing card games. When her health began declining, she returned to her order’s motherhouse in 2020.  

Sister Margaret is survived by nieces Mary, Suzanne, Jeanne and Theresa and preceded in death by sisters Mary McAnoy, Jane M. Zukowski, JoAnn McAnoy, IHM, brother Reverend Thomas McAnoy; niece Kathleen and nephew John.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel, Monroe, on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Livestreaming of the service may be viewed until Jan. 10. Father John Adamski of Atlanta was the homilist.

Green burial followed in St. Mary Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the IHM Retirement Fund, 610 W. Elm Avenue, Monroe, MI 48162-7909.

Editor Nichole Golden contributed to this obituary from the IHM Sisters.