In Loving Memory…

Sister M. Emeline (Cunningham), CSC

Sister M. Emeline (Cunningham), CSC

Funeral Arrangements

Tuesday, May 23, 2024 

Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana 

Visitors are welcome.

Sister M. Emeline, CSC
(Kathleen Ann Cunningham) 

April 17, 1929–May 17, 2024 

We share news of the death of Sister M. Emeline (Cunningham), CSC, who died at 7:25 a.m. on April 17, 2024, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Emeline entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Limerick, Ireland, on September 24, 1947. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1950.

Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.

Sister M. Emeline (Cunningham) died in the early morning hours of May 17, 2024, exactly one month after her 95th birthday. A proud Irish woman, she had traditional Irish music playing softly in her room throughout her last hours. The music seemed to soothe her on her journey home to God. Baptized as Kathleen Ann Cunningham, she was born in Limerick, Ireland, on April 17, 1929, to parents Michael Cunningham and Margaret Madigan Cunningham. Kathleen was one of seven children—all girls. Her father was a farmer and her mother a housewife. She is survived by one sister, Sister Geraldine Cunningham, who is a Sister of St. Joseph of Cluny living in Ireland.

Kathleen grew up in Limerick, attending St. Joseph’s Parish School and graduating from St. Mary’s Secondary School in 1947.  Kathleen learned of the Sisters of the Holy Cross through a member of the Congregation, Sister M. Gerald (Hartney), CSC, whose father was mayor of Limerick. Sister Gerald’s account of the mission and history of Holy Cross awakened within Kathleen a desire to become a member. Soon after completing high school, she traveled with three other young women entering the Congregation to New York, where Sister Gerald met them and accompanied them to Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. She and her companions entered the Congregation on September 24, 1947.  

Sister Emeline always thought she would like to be a nurse. By 1951, she was at Mount Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, enrolled in their nursing program. She earned her certification as a registered nurse while also serving as a student nurse. Except for serving a year as a nurse at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, she was a nurse with Mount Carmel Hospital from 1954 to 1966. She also took time away to complete studies at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1960.

While at Mount Carmel Hospital, she served as head nurse on a floor and, after 1960, as supervisor of orthopedics. After leaving the hospital, she served another year as a nurse at Saint Mary’s Convent. Her next assignment, in 1968, was as head nurse of a surgical unit at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. At the end of 12 years at the hospital, she enjoyed a sabbatical leave for six months. She took this time to participate in several programs for spiritual enrichment. Then in 1981, she applied for and accepted the position of head nurse at Columbia Road Health Services in Washington, D.C. Health care as well as other services were provided to the poor in this inner-city facility where clients came from diverse cultures and nationalities. Sister Emeline found this work with the needy the most rewarding of her life despite the pressures encountered.

She continued to live with the community of sisters located near Holy Cross Hospital, traveling by public transportation to work. Besides directing the nursing staff, she provided patient care and acted as a medical assistant. She was especially pleased that specialists and hospital care were available to clients unable to pay for them. Sister had a deep appreciation for the weekly prayer services and periodic retreat days, which brought the staff together to pray and to strengthen their dedication to their mission. Sister Emeline’s ministry at Columbia Road Health Services continued for 30 years until her retirement in 2010.       

Sister Emeline maintained her Irish roots and her love for her family, enjoying visits to Ireland and her family throughout her life. She was an involved member of the various local communities to which she belonged. She had a generous and fun-loving spirit. St. Patrick’s Day always called for a great celebration. Throughout her life, she participated in professional and spiritual conferences. Before her retirement, she had moved to Saint Angela Hall in Kensington, Maryland. After her retirement, she worked with church and school groups to raise money and provide Christmas gifts for the needy families associated with the Anacostia Health Care Center in Washington, D.C. In 2018, she moved to Saint Mary’s, where she lived a life of loving prayer. Now she continues to intercede for others in her joyous life with God.                    

Written by Sister Grace Shonk, CSC
Sister of the Holy Cross Archives and Records