Obituary | Sr. M. Noreen McGowan, FSM
A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 30 at the Anna House Chapel of The Sarah Community in Bridgeton for Sister M. Noreen McGowan, FSM, a much beloved figure at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, having served 54 years there.
A memorial Mass was to take place at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7 in the chapel at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.
Sister Noreen, 97, died Aug. 28 at her home at the Sarah Community. She served as a sister for more than 78 years.
Sister Noreen welcomed the first patients as director of nursing when the hospital opened in July 1956, and she served at Cardinal Glennon continuously until she retired Oct. 1, 2010, at the age of 96. Glennon named a conference room in her honor, and for the past 25-plus years has held the Sister Noreen McGowan Pediatric Nursing Conference. The Cardinal Glennon Foundation awarded her the Crystal Wagon Award for embodying the true spirit of Cardinal Glennon.
Born Anna Elizabeth McGowan in St. Louis to Irish immigrant parents, she attended St. Matthew Elementary School and St. Alphonsus "Rock" High School.
She entered the Sisters of St. Mary in 1933 and initially did not want to be a nurse. She professed final vows in 1939. (In 1987 the Sisters of St. Mary reunited with the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville, Mo., as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, or FSM).
Sister Noreen studied nursing at St. Louis University and became a registered nurse in 1939; she completed her bachelor's degree in nursing in 1944 and her master's degree in nursing education in 1954, also through St. Louis University. In 1963 she earned a post-master's certification in maternal child nursing at the University of Colorado, and in 1971 she became a pediatric nurse practitioner through St. Louis University.
Except for three years as pediatric supervisor at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, Wis., Sister Noreen served in St. Louis. From 1939-46 she was a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis. She served as pediatric supervisor first at St. Mary's Infirmary, 1949-53, then at St. Mary's Hospital until 1956, when Cardinal Glennon opened.
Sister Noreen served as Glennon's director of nursing service from 1956-62. Then until 1986 she taught pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Nursing and supervised nursing students in their clinical work. After becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, she began assessing babies' health at Carondelet Family Care Center in her spare time.
According to a statement from her community, she always understood the importance of caring for spiritual and emotional needs as well as physical -- those of the family as well as the patient. Often she would return to the hospital in the evening to be a supportive presence for worried parents.
For many years she served in Glennon's surgery waiting room, greeting families, listening to their concerns, reassuring and praying with them. Once the child's surgery was finished, she would lead parents to the recovery room.
Sister Noreen enjoyed reading, embroidery and quilting. She was an enthusiastic fan of baseball and especially the St. Louis Cardinals. She moved to The Sarah Community in October 2010.
Burial was at Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis.
- News »
- Papal News
- Religious Liberty
- Living Our Faith »
- Church Teaching »
- Opinion »
- Year of Faith
- Special Sections »