Margaret Mary Killeen, one of 8 children, was born to Alphonsus Killeen and Matilda Egan of Stanleyville on July 7, 1914, in Gananoque. A teacher in the area at the time recalls the shining example which this devout couple handed on.
From an early age, Margaret felt called to the religious life (eventually her sisters, Carmel and Rita, followed her). Some time spent with an uncle, Father Charles Killeen, and his sister, Nell Killeen, in Belleville no doubt confirmed her decision. She came to the Novitiate September 14, 1932; after first Profession August 15, 1934, taking the name of Sister Mary Alphonse, she completed her high school in Glen Nevis.
After a year of practical nursing in Smiths Falls, she was enrolled in the School of Nursing at Brockville, where, as a contemporary recalls, her spirit of joy and humility prevailed. Even in those early years, one noted with what serenity Sister looked on foibles of those around her, while maintaining her ability to speak of hard things in her life without rancour.
After obtaining registration, Sister was missioned to nurse in Moose Jaw, Brockville, Camrose, Montreal, and Daysland, serving as Superior in Montreal and Daysland. With the publication of the December 1967 Decrees, Sister reverted to her baptismal name.
On the withdrawal of the Sisters from Daysland, Sister Margaret was asked to come East to serve in pastoral ministry at the Kingston General Hospital and she responded with some well founded apprehension since the ‘wholistic care concept’, as we know it today, was just beginning to emerge. There, Sister served for 16 years ‘Where comforters were needed much – of Christ-like touch’, earning the love and respect of staff, co-workers, patients and their families, and volunteers alike. Her gift of serving with insight and compassion elicited the comment of a Senior Hospital official “Sister is the HEART of the hospital”.
With the spoken tributes came also recognition from the Holy Father in awarding the medal ‘Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’ which, with the accompanying citation, was presented by Archbishop F.J. Spence of Kingston. Her many years of pastoral care service merited an honourary emeritus membership in the Association of Roman Catholic Chaplains (ARCC), a first, as well as the establishment of a Sister Margaret Killeen Education Trust Fund to assist in further training of future Pastoral Care workers.
Her name is in the Book of Memories at Kingston General Hospital – many the seed she so patiently and lovingly planted grows and flourishes.
Sister Margaret died on July 5, 1991, and her sister, Sister Carmel Killeen died the following day. The funeral Mass was celebrated for the two sisters on July 8, by Archbishop Francis J. Spence, assisted by several priests, and Rev. Brian McNally delivered the homily; nephews of the deceased were pallbearers, and some of the Ministers who had shared Sister’s journey wanted to have a part in her farewell and served in the reading, intercessions, and as pallbearers.