“Love one another as you have hitherto done.” 

-Nano Nagle

 

Sister Kieran O’Connor in 1939.

Sister Mary Kieran O’Connor (nee Frances Bridget) grew up in St. Vincent de Paul Parish in San Francisco.  Her parents shared their deep faith, true compassion, Irish wit and wisdom with their nine children.  Her brothers and sisters showed her the joy of good books and of conversation sprinkled with fun and laughter.  Their family was blessed with four vocations to the religious life.

After completing eight grades at St. Vincent de Paul School, she studied at the Academy of the Presentation.  Her call to religious life came through the influence of dedicated teachers in the high school, who showed her the joy of serving God.  On July 1, 1939, she entered the Presentation community.

Sister Kieran O’Connor reading with students.

Education has been Sister Kieran’s life ministry and teaching her joy.  She has taught in many Presentation schools, and says that some of the most beautiful children in the world have sat in her classroom.  She opened Saint Catherine School in Morgan Hill in 1963, serving there as teacher and principal.  Later, she served as Vice-principal at St. Patrick School.

In 1984, Sister Kieran was asked to be full time Vice-Principal at St. Christopher School in San Jose. Although she missed the classroom, she soon became involved in the life of an exceptional school community.  Over the next thirty-two years, she worked with seven different principals!  The children were a delight, there was an excellent staff, and the children practiced Nano’s “Not Words but Deeds” in many ways.

Sr. Kieran O’Connor in 1988, while serving as Vice-Principal of St. Christopher School, San Jose.

During her teaching career, Sister Kieran was nominated as Teacher of the Year in San Francisco and for the Sister Miriam Joseph Farrell, PBVM Award in San Jose.  In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown honored her for over seventy-five years in education.  December 18, 2016 was declared “Sister Kieran O’Connor Day” in San Francisco.  Her first-grade student, Urie Walsh, presented her with the Governor’s message.

Sister Kieran has visited Ireland on two occasions.  It was a delight for her to stand at the birthplaces of her parents and to meet her Irish relatives.

In 2017, Sister Kieran returned to the city of her birth, to share community with her Sisters—and two birth sisters!!—at the Motherhouse.  She had the joy to live for a short time with Sister Michaeline, her dear sister and soul friend, and still enjoys afternoon visits with Sister Euphemia.  She loves having more time to pray, to read, to enjoy a Book Club, to be part of a beautiful community.

Thinking back on her life as a Presentation Sister, Sister Kieran recalls, “Many of the older Sisters were my mentors.  From them I learned so much—the joy of community life and ways to inspire the love of learning in my students.  Our California Presentation community was built on the sacrifices, the wisdom, and the faith of those Sisters.”

Sister Kieran passed away on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. Her funeral was celebrated Thursday, January 12, 2023, at the Presentation Motherhouse, with interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. The Mass was livestreamed; view the recording here.

 

Sister Euphemia, Sister Kieran, and Sister Michaeline – “The O’Connor Girls” in 2018, 

Sister Kieran with her former students at her 100th birthday party in 2021: Sisters Rita Jovick, Darlene Terry, Ellen Cafferty, Virginia Espinal, and Bernie Gotelli were all her students. Sister Virginia Espinal was in Sister Kieran’s class at Cathedral, which was her first class.

 

 

Ministries

1941 – 1942 Teacher, Cathedral Presentation, San Francisco
1941 – 1943 Teacher, St. Anne’s School, San Francisco
1943 – 1946 Teacher, St. Agnes School, San Francisco
1946 – 1948 Teacher, St. Benedict School, Montebello
1948 – 1949 Teacher, St. Peter and Paul School, San Francisco
1949 – 1950 Teacher, St. Francis Presentation, San Francisco
1950 – 1951 Teacher, St. Columba School, Oakland
1951 – 1953 Teacher, St. Patrick School, San Jose
1953 – 1958 Teacher, St. Anne School, San Francisco
1958 – 1959 Teacher, Holy Trinity School, San Pedro; and Teacher,
St. Anne School, San Francisco
1959 – 1962 Teacher, St. Anne School, San Francisco
1962 – 1963 Teacher, St. Patrick School, San Jose
1963 – 1970 Principal and Teacher, St. Catherine School, Morgan Hill
1970 – 1971 Teacher, Nativity School, Menlo Park
1971 – 1977 Teacher, St. Patrick School, San Jose
1977 – 1984 Vice Principal and Teacher, St. Patrick School, San Jose
1984 – 2018 Vice Principal, St. Christopher School, San Jose
2018 – 2022 Ministry of Prayer, Motherhouse, San Francisco