Sister Alfred Ward, MSC
1919 – 2015
Mary Ann Ward was born on November 11, 1919 at Callow in Ireland. She had one sister who had entered the Missionary Franciscans for the missions of Africa. Mary Ann said, “I did not feel called to follow her. But for two years I thought about religious life, and then one day I met an American Marianite on holiday in Ireland and I immediately felt attracted to the Marianites. Despite the concern of my parents to see me so far away from them, they finally agreed to let me go. It was October 1938 and I was nineteen years old.”
Sr. Alfred still tells how hard it was arriving in France without knowing the language, but on October 20, 1938, she entered the Congregation of the Marianites in Précigné, France. She made her postulancy with ten companions, received the habit and the name Sr. Mary of St. Alfred, pronounced her first vows on June 14, 1940, and made final profession on June 14, 1943.
Once World War II was declared, communications with Ireland were cut off and Sister had no news of her family. In addition, eleven of her companions from Northern Ireland were taken prisoner by the Germans and held until the end of the War. Despite all this and her fear of the bombings, Sister Alfred continued her apprenticeship as a nun and a nurse.
She began her ministry as a nurse’s aide at St. Joseph Clinic in Le Mans and then at St. Michel Clinic in Angers. She returned to Le Mans and served in the operating room until 1955. Having become a registered nurse, she was put in charge of the operating room at St. Pierre Fourrier in Epinal from 1955 to 1963. From there, she went to Clinique Notre Dame in Vire where she was in charge of the operating room for some twenty years! A dedicated and tireless worker, Sister would get up at night for emergency operations, and then she would do her day’s regular job without complaining. Much appreciated by the doctors, the patients and their families, she made faithful friends, several of whom showed up at her funeral. She saw the closing of the Vire community in 1983.
In September of that year, Sr. Alfred began a new mission nursing the elderly, first at Précigné and then at the retirement home in Annoville where she ministered for five years. From 1990 to 1999, she was responsible for the care of our elderly and sick sisters at Notre Dame de Gazonfier in Le Mans. Very attentive to each of them, she ensured their well-being and never spared herself with those who suffered the most.
When Gazonfier closed in 1997, Alfred moved with the whole community to Notre Dame de la Solitude where she continued her presence and her service to the sisters at the new retirement home of the Marianites.
From 1999 to 2005, she lived her own retirement in the communities of St. Bertrand and Ardriers. A great worker by nature, Sister helped with upkeep and household service in each of our houses and to those who needed help in the surroundings. Her ministry also included participation in and animation of the senior groups (clubs) of the area. She did this with great joy because she loved to play and . . . to win at all costs!
When in January 2005 Alfred came to stay at Notre Dame de la Solitude, she spent her time praying, reading the newspaper and magazines, and playing games. “We have happy and joyous memories of her battles playing cards with Sister Aimée.”
In 2008 when her health declined greatly, her knees and legs forced her to use a wheelchair. She remained courageous in spite of her suffering and she kept pace with the community as much as possible. A smiling and happy sister who loved to sing and to recall Irish dances in her meetings with her Irish compatriots on special feasts. Her greatest suffering near the end of her life was the impossibility of returning to her dear Ireland which she spoke of from time to time.
After some heavy suffering and at the end of her strength, Sister Alfred went home to God on August 7, 2015, at the age of 96 and in the 77th year of her religious life. Following her passage into eternal life, the sisters of her community spent an hour together in the oratory, praying and sharing thoughts and memories of this dear sister.
The celebration of her funeral was directed by Fr. John de Riso, CSC, in the chapel of the Solitude on August 11, 2015. Present were her Marianite sisters, several of the personnel, faithful friends who accompanied her by their presence and their prayers. Sister Alfred’s body rests now in Holy Cross Cemetery in Le Mans.
May the Lord welcome her into the Peace and Joy of his Eternal Kingdom.