Sr. Margaret Ahl

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Ahl, Sr. Margaret DC MENANDS Daughter of Charity Sister Margaret Ahl died at DePaul Provincial House on Sunday, October 14, 2007. Margaret Catherine Ahl was born in 1923 to Mary E. Connolly and William H. Ahl in Jamaica, N.Y. The family, consisting of Peggy, as she was always known, and an older brother and sister, soon moved to Baltimore, Md. St. Dominic's School and Seton High School in Baltimore, formed the basis of her education. After six months of nursing school and the death of her mother whom she loved dearly, Peggy entered the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Md. in 1943 where she became known as Sister Angelica for the next 35 years. Once it was permissible, she eagerly resumed her own name, Sister Margaret. Following a two-year assignment at St. Peter's School in Wilmington, Del., which she described as disastrous, Sister once again began nursing studies at Catholic University. By 1973 she had achieved both an RN and a master's degree in nursing education, ranking number one on the state board examination that year. For the next 21 years, she served as director of three hospital-based nursing schools, Providence, Detroit, Mich., St. Vincent's, Jacksonville, Fla. and Catherine Labour? in Boston, Mass. By 1972, Catherine Labour? School of Nursing, under her leadership, had become a junior college of nursing and allied health science. After serving a year as acting president, Sister Margaret began studies at Boston University and achieved a doctoral degree in education in 1975. Now began the most important challenge of her life, an assignment to Bethlehem in Palestine in 1976 where she laid the foundation of a baccalaureate program in nursing for the Palestinian Arabs at Bethlehem University on the West Bank. Under unbelievable obstacles, she established the program with a small faculty and the help of United States (AID) funding and graduated the first class of eleven men and three women in 1980. Subsequently three of these first graduates earned higher degrees in the US and returned to the West Bank to work. The program flourished despite constant disruptions, and today enrolls over 200 students in both nursing and allied health care occupations. The Bethlehem experience gave Sister Margaret the opportunity to visit all the Biblical holy places in Palestine and Israel and to visit the neighboring countries of Jordan and Egypt. She especially treasured the opportunities to and come to know another culture and to participate in family events celebrated by her students, almost all of whom were Muslim. She tried her best to even learn a little bit of Arabic! Sister Margaret's last assignment in nursing education was in Buffalo, N.Y. where she developed the waning diploma nursing program into a successful associate degree program in 1986. Although the program was doing well, the decision was made in 1998 to terminate it in keeping with societal changes. Niagara University awarded her an honorary degree of doctor of pedagogy in 1999 in recognition of her outstanding contributions to nursing education in the Buffalo area. Sister Margaret retired to DePaul Provincial House in Menands in 2000 where she served almost seven years as community archivist, completing her 64 years as a Daughter of Charity. She is survived by her sister, Mary Ahl Heugel of Coburg Village in Clifton Park; by her niece, Mary Catherine Eiswert of Oakland, Md.; her nephew, Richard Ahl of Denver, Colo.; her sister-in-law, Mary Ahl; grand nieces and nephews; and her cousins, Catherine Foley of Denver and Mary Ellen Leyva of Sonoma, Calif. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. with a wake service at 7 p.m. in DePaul Provincial House Chapel, 96 Menand Road, Albany, NY 12204. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday in the DePaul Provincial House Chapel at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Daughters of Charity, 96 Menand Road, Albany, NY 12204.
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Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, Inc.
490 Delaware Avenue
Albany, NY 12209
(518) 463-1594
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Published in Albany Times Union from Oct. 16 to Oct. 17, 2007