Sister Olga McKenna
Born In: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Born: August 14th, 1920
Passed in: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Passed on: May 1st, 2012
Sister Mary Olga McKenna, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax, died peacefully at Caritas Residence May 1, 2012. Born Aug. 14, 1920, in Charlottetown, she was the fourth of nine children born to Charles Edward McKenna and Mary Rachel Monaghan. She grew up in the town of Kensington, attended Kensington High School and proceeded to Prince of Wales College for Teacher Certification. In 1936 Sister Olga left her Island province at the age of 16 to join the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity, in Halifax, N.S. Following her first profession of vows in 1939 and her perpetual commitment in 1945, she continued her spiritual journey and her education within the congregation. Sister received her BA degree from Mt. St. Vincent College, her MA degree and PhD degree from Boston College. In 1977 her American-Canadian credentials were supplemented by an Associateship from the Institute of Education University of London, England. After teaching 25 years in parochial and public schools in the United States and Canada, Sister joined Mt. St. Vincent Education faculty where she was engaged in the preparation of teachers for the next 22 years. Sister Olga’s special interest in the nurturing of teachers is clearly reflected in her appointments as chair of the Education department, co-ordinator of student teaching and director of graduate studies at Mt. St. Vincent University. Over the years, her influence gradually expanded across the country. After several appointments on key advisory educational committees with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and on the board of the Atlantic Institute of Education, Sister Olga spent years working on the national scene in an executive capacity with organizations such as the Canadian College of Teachers, the Comparative and International Education Society as well as Canadian Philosophy of Education Society where she was elected to the presidency. Once retired from teaching and administration, Sister Mary Olga was engaged in full-time research. This research necessitated many travels throughout Canada, United States, Bermuda, South America and Europe. A biography entitled, “Micmac By Choice: Elise Sark, an Island Legend,” was published in 1990 and reprinted in 1992. She was guest editor of the spring issue of the Abeqweit Review on “the Mi’Kmaq”, a journal published by the University of Prince Edward Island. Sister Olga’s more recent publication “Charity Alive: The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax, 1950-1980” was published by the University Press of America Inc. in 1998. Within the past 10 years, Sister Olga successfully completed genealogies on her paternal and maternal ancestors dating back five generations to her Irish roots. Among her awards, Sister Olga was given an honorary member of the Delta Gamma Society International; an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Prince Edward Island; the Docete Award for Catechetical service in the Archdiocese of Halifax; a Sister Mary Olga Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Award, and upon retirement from Mt. St. Vincent University was granted the title Professor Emeritus. Sister enjoyed her strong ties to family, relatives and friends, always delighting in her many trips to the ‘Gentle Island’. Sister will be sadly missed by all. Sister Olga is survived by her half-brothers Elwood and Wayne McKenna and half-sisters Elva (Leonard) Roberts, Catherine Griffits, Olga Leach, Elizabeth (Gerry) Haines and by several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers, Herb, Leo, Foch, Wendell and John Vincent; sisters Eileen, Agnes, Mary and her half-brother, Everett McKenna, sister-in-law Marjorie; brother-in-law Ray Griffits and nephew Julian Croken. Visitation will be held Thursday, May 3, in Caritas Residence from 3-7 p.m. Mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, May 4, in Immaculate Conception Chapel at Caritas Residence at 10 a.m. Interment will take place in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Sackville, N.S. Donations may be made to the Sister Mary Olga Jubilee Scholarship Fund at Mt. St. Vincent University or to a charity of your choice.