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Sr. Agnes Conway, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Sr. Agnes Conway, OP, died on October 5, 2015, at Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY). A Dominican for 77 years, Sr. Agnes lived to be 96 and was proud of her age.

Sr. Agnes Conway, OP

Born in Kearney, NE, she spent many years of ministry in her home state. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and English from the University of Nebraska as well as a Master of Science degree in Education and Administration from Creighton University. For over 30 years she ministered as a teacher or principal in schools in Nebraska as well as one in Chicago. Both Sr. Regina McCarthy, OP, and Sr. Elaine DesRosiers, OP, remember her professional skills and cheerful dedication to her ministry and to the students who always seemed to enjoy her.

When Sr. Agnes left teaching she earned a certificate in Pastoral Care studies which she put to good use at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, NE. When she retired after ten years in hospital ministry she chose to remain in Kearney and take on the cooking and shopping responsibilities for her local community. Sisters remember her as always generous and kind, a woman who could bring people together. Sr. Rita Carr, OP, said that Sr. Agnes knew everyone in the local grocery store, most of them by name. Her weekly food-buying trips became both a means to socialize as well as a way to minister. She enjoyed visiting with the people she met there and they found in her a listening ear and a warm heart.

In 1996, Sr. Agnes moved to St. Catharine Motherhouse (KY) where she was later joined by her dear friend Sr. Teresa Wolfe, OP. Sr. Teresa recounts that the two rarely passed a day without playing cards, often "Spite and Malice" but without the maliciousness that the name of the game implies.

Sr. Teresa remembers her friend as a truly wonderful person who was not only a very capable administrator but also a deeply prayerful woman. In her last days Sr. Agnes would often tell her visitors, "Pray." Sr. Joan McGuire, OP, said that Sr. Agnes almost always had the Rosary in her hands, even when asleep.

In her reflection at the Eucharist, Sr. Charlene Vogel, OP, said:

Strength emanates from the three readings today. Ecclesiastes tells us that the journey of life consists of contrasting experiences - silence and speaking, planting and harvesting, joys and sorrows. It speaks to our hearts of the sometimes chaotic times in life.

Paul's Letter to the Romans tells us that this journey is under-girded with the strength of conviction which holds us steady. "If God is for us, who can be against us."

In the Beatitudes Jesus gives us the formula for happiness:

  1. Know that you are spiritually poor.
  2. Know that comfort will come after sadness and hardship.
  3. Know that good things are promised to those who know God as their creator.
  4. Know that satisfaction comes from desiring and struggling to accept God's will.
  5. Know that Peacemakers are children of God.

Sr. Agnes chose these readings for today's Mass. What a wonderful message she leaves us! Understanding life gives us strength for living. Knowing God is for us gives us the strength of faith. Recognizing that God gives us all good things fills us with the strength of hope.

Sr. Agnes was strong in understanding the twists and turns of life. She recognized human weakness and yet readily accepted people for who they were. She loved talking with the checkout lady at the Supermarket, the UPS man, and the ordinary people around her. She was strong in her awareness of the needs of others. When I lived alone in Kearney, she invited me to Friday night suppers for a little fun and camaraderie. A simple gesture but it meant so much! Social justice was an important part of her life. She advocated for migrant workers, Caesar Chavez' grape pickers, and the immigrants and poor around her to name a few.

Her Baptism into God's life grew into a strong belief that God accompanied her in all situations. She never wavered from this belief even as she faced death. Even when her eyesight began to fail, you could find her reading her office book at the enlarger reader. She loved her quiet and reflective times with God and kept them a priority.

Another word that describes Agnes was practical. She was a "doer" and had a certain "impatience" in her. She often said, "Let's get on with it." This meant to stop talking, let the small stuff go and get to the heart of the matter. This impatience gave rise to a certain abruptness in speech. If you asked her advice, you could be sure she would give it with no waste of words. After Vatican II, I was making a ministry change.  Evidently, my choice didn't please her. She pulled me aside and said: "charlene, what are you thinking?" and proceeded to give her evaluation of the choice. But she did listen to my side and we left friends. She had a practical sense of humor, too. A classic example was when she said: "Using soft toothbrushes is like brushing your teeth with Kleenex." You can't get more practical than that.

And finally, no one can deny Sr. Agnes was a community woman. She was always involved - organizing, doing the menial chores or just celebrating. She was the first to get out the decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine or St. Patrick's Day.

And so Agnes, we say thank you for your wise message in the readings: Have unwavering faith that God is for us, understand the workings of life, and know that God walks with us. This message gives us strength to continue our journey of life. Thank you for making our lives so much richer. Enjoy the glory of God and don't forget to intercede for us!

Sr. Agnes is survived by several nieces and nephews. The funeral Mass was held October 9 at Sansbury Care Center Chapel (St. Catharine, KY). After cremation, her remains will be buried at St. Catharine Cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Agnes' name may be submitted securely online at
or mailed to Office of Mission Advancement, Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219-2098.

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