On Sept. 26, 2013, Seattle’s Christ the King School, with its newly-refurbished classrooms, was rededicated by Archbishop James Peter Sartain. One of those classrooms was named for Sister Mary Raphael Kennedy, BVM.
Sister Mary Raphael Kennedy, BVM (Hanora Mary) was born in Smerwick, Ballyferriter, County Kerry, Ireland, in 1904. She had several BVM relatives, and 10 girls from Ballyferriter became BVMs.
Sister arrived in America at age 15 and lived as a boarder at St. Joseph Academy, Des Moines, Iowa. After graduation, she returned to Ireland to tell her family that she, too, planned to enter the BVM congregation. Sister Mary Raphael received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago and a master’s degree in education from Seattle University. Through her years of ministry she served as teacher, superior and principal in Illinois and Washington.
In retirement at Wright Hall, Chicago, Sister received a letter in 1989 from Seattle Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy from his residence at Christ the King Parish where she had ministered from 1952–1973. The archbishop had asked an alum of the school, an attorney named John Hempelmann, “Who or what encouraged him the most to be such a public person.” Hemplemann immediately mentioned Sister Mary Raphael.
The archbishop wrote Sister a letter of gratitude, saying, “I believe we hear far too often about the good that people have done and do not take the time to say ‘thank you’ to them.”
During the recent renovation of Christ the King School, John Hempelmann expressed his own ‘thank you’ by funding a classroom of the school and having it named for Sister Mary Raphael.