Celebrating her 100th Birthday: Sister Mary James McMahon
On June 4, 2014, a 100th birthday celebration was held for Sister Mary James McMahon. At 2 O'Connor Drive, the CSJ Leadership Team, the 2 O'Connor community and staff were present alongside Sister Mary James' family. Together, they celebrated her life and ministries.
For this occasion, Sister Mary James received special Citations from Pope Francis, Queen Elizabeth II, Governor General of Canada David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Sister Thérèse Meunier, the Congregational Leader, brought birthday wishes on behalf of all the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. A display board showed photographs of Sister Mary James' life and everyone shared memories of Sister Mary James as refreshments were served.
"Nursing was her lifelong career," said Sister Mary Kay Camp, a Loretto Sister and the niece of Sister Mary James. "She was a caring person, always interested in every single person's life." Sister Mary James was born in Port Credit, Ontario in 1914. In 1939, she finished her studies at the St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing and became a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph community in 1942. Afterwards, she continued to work at St. Joseph's Hospital for 20 years and established the Pediatrics Department that became well known throughout the health care system.
A display board showing photos of Sister Mary James McMahon's life and ministries.
In the 1960s, she moved to St. Michael's Hospital, where she was the assistant administrator and then the local leader. Trish Macor, also a niece of Sister Mary James, worked at St. Michael's Hospital during this period. "We used to have lunch together," Trish recalled, "and I remember her as a great lady. She was always smiling and everything was wonderful to her. I think she loved working with children."
Roz Monchamp, another niece, has fond childhood recollections of her aunt. "My siblings and I have great memories of visiting her at St. Joseph's Hospital when we were 6-years-old. She'd be so happy to see us. She is an amazing woman." Sister Mary James' nursing career continued at Providence Villa (now Providence Healthcare) and then the infirmary at the Morrow Park Motherhouse.
During the party, a good friend of Sister Mary James, Sister Marcella Iredale, spoke of what drew Sister Mary James to nursing and becoming a Sister. "She had a quality of presence that touched others," said Sister Marcella, "and I think she had a sense of being called to help people."