Sr. M. Stella Phelan
Congregational Register No. 187
First Profession 07.03.1951
Died: 01.01.2001 Aged: 75 years
Patricia Phelan was born in Tarbert, Co. Kerry, the eldest daughter of her parents, Nora and Robert. After attending Loreto Convent, Killarney, she began medical studies in University College, Cork. As a fourth year medical student, she came to Dublin to meet Mother Mary, and Sr. Stella, as she became known, began her MMM story at this point. She transferred to Dublin to finish her medicine, entering MMM in September 1947. Even her initial formation period was entwined with the early MMM story as she travelled to USA with Mother Mary in 1950 as she founded the Congregation in America.
Her first overseas assignment began in 1953 in Anua, Nigeria. She later served in Dareda, Tanzania and in Kitovu, Uganda. Between 1958 and 1968, Sr. Stella worked in the International Missionary Training Hospital in Drogheda and spent periods both in England and Ireland studying for the Fellowship examinations in Surgery. She was always a good student and came top of her class. In 1968, she returned to Uganda and it was from there that she was elected Superior General in 1969.
Sr. M. Stella was the first Superior General elected after the founding period with Mother Mary Martin. It must be remembered that both the Church in general and religious life were in a time of ferment and change during this period. Sr. Stella served from 1969-1973, at which point she was asked by Rome to step down. This was a painful period, both for herself personally and for the entire Congregation. Essentially a very private person, Sr. Stella shared her feelings with only a few close friends throughout her life, although her loyalty to MMM was unquestioned.
Sr. Stella's next posting was to the Yemen where she worked for two years before returning to London. From 1977 until her death on New Year's Day, 2001, she worked at the Chelsea and Westminster Group of Hospitals as a Consultant, principally at Charring Cross Hospital. She had a long and close relationship with the Religious of the Sacred Heart during this time, and lived with them first in their convent, and later in a smaller house on the convent grounds.
Sr. M. Stella died of cancer on January 1st, 2001 after a brief final illness and was buried in Drogheda on January 6th, her feastday.