Sister Benedict Shannon, CCVI
Sister Benedict Shannon, CCVI, died on November 23, 2018 at Villa de Matel. She was born in 1924 to Michael and Bridget (Sexton) Shannon in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Ireland and was known as Catherine.
Catherine entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, TX on April 23, 1939 at St. Michael Convent, Co. Clare, Ireland. She was one of three daughters of the family to become CCVIs: Sr. Rebecca, her twin sister, and Sr. Amelia, who are now both deceased. Sister Benedict consecrated her life to God by Perpetual Profession of Vows on June 6, 1951.
Sr. Benedict felt passionately called by God to assist others through various ministries, which initially included the care of children at St. Mary's Orphanage, Galveston. Later on, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychiatric nursing, graduating with honors from the University of Texas, Galveston. She served as clinical instructor at Hotel Dieu School of Nursing in Beaumont, opened the first new psychiatric nursing unit at Schumpert Hospital, Shreveport, LA, and then at St. Patrick Hospital, Lake Charles, LA. In 1980, Sr. Benedict became the medical unit director at St. Joseph Villa for the elderly in Salt Lake City, UT. During all these years, Sister's concern for the plight of the underprivileged, the poor, the racially discriminated, those stigmatized due to mental health illness, alcoholism, other drug related concerns, and jailed and death row prisoners became her focus. Sister took classes in theology and law, made visits to prisons, and joined various organizations such as Common Cause, Church Women United, Court Watchers, and Prison Reform. In addition, Sr. Benedict became a member of the Lake Charles Branch of the NAACP and, in 2003, received their highest honor, The Dorothea Combre Award. As a board member on the Lake Charles Help Center, the Poverty Program, Louisiana Mental Health Association, and Louisiana Council on Alcohol, Sister Benedict acted on her beliefs as a Christian.
At 64, Sr. Benedict volunteered, trained, and went to Molo, Kenya to open the new dispensary at Baraka. She was also on the Congregation's Formation Team in Kenya to help guide students and candidates interested in religious life. In 1990, Sister became a chaplain at CHRISTUS St. Joseph Hospital, Houston and, subsequently, a patient representative there. In 1997, Sister assisted with medical records at San José Clinic, Houston. In 2002, Sr. Benedict devoted her life to prayer ministry, while continuing to be actively engaged in prison literacy, death row visitations, and the abolishment of the death penalty. Her life's commitment was to seek human rights for all, while expressing her love of the Incarnate Word of God.
Sister Benedict is survived by one brother, Msgr. Peter Paul (Peadar) Shannon of Australia, nieces and nephews including Angela and Tom Irving, Marie and Martin O'Sullivan, Gerard and Betty Shannon, and Michael Shannon, all of Ireland; and Lucy Shannon and Ben Shannon of Australia. A special thank you is extended to all who cared for Sister in her last illness at St. Anne's Convent.
Sister's body will be received at the Immaculate Conception Chapel, Villa de Matel, 6510 Lawndale St, Houston at 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, followed by Evening Praise and a celebration of her life. Mass of Christian Burial will be held in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at 10:30 A.M. on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. The Rite of Committal will follow at Villa de Matel Cemetery.
Published by Houston Chronicle on Nov. 25, 2018.