APRIL 2006: SISTER AGNES McDOUGALL (entered eternal life on April 6, 2015)
Agnes Ann McDougall was born on February 26, 1933 in Indianapolis, IN and raised in a loving family along with one brother and a sister. Her path to Religious Life was one that began, quite appropriately, in a school.
“Father Raymond was leading a retreat at St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis, and gave me the address of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis,” Sister Agnes recalled. She contacted the Sisters and after a time of discernment, entered the Community on September 12, 1951. “I desired to merge Religious Life and Nursing and found this in our Franciscan Community,” Sister Agnes said.
In 1957 she graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing, Springfield – a school where she would eventually serve more than 20 years as a nursing instructor, assistant director, and director. She continued her education and completed post graduate education in surgery at St. John’s Hospital, received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Marillac College, St. Louis, MO, and earned a master’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
Friends share their thoughts
“Her commitment to nursing and nursing education has served as an inspiration to me for many years. She does not see events as a crisis but as an opportunity for growth. Best of all, Sister Agnes has the gift of using humor to calm tense situations and the ability to convey a real love for nursing to those she meets,” said Dr. Dottie Irvin, St. John’s School of Nursing Associate Professor.
Mary Lou Catteau, former coworker at St. John’s School of Nursing, said “It was an honor and a privilege to work as Sister Agnes’ secretary while she was Director. She is a very personable person and a good friend with a wonderful sense of humor.”
Documenting one part of the Sisters’ history
Sister Agnes spent two years in research and then wrote the book “The history of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield, Illinois” on the observance of its 100th anniversary in 1986. “I was able to dig through faculty minutes, past issues of the school newsletter, and many photographs. I also was able to interview Sisters, alumni, and staff that shared memories and helped identify the photos,” Sister Agnes said.
Following the completion of the book, Sister Agnes served at Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, WI, in Gerontology. She then went on to teach nursing in East St. Louis and Decatur.
Relationship with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, IL
She began her service at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville, in 1958 as the Operating Room Assistant Supervisor and returned in 1996 in her current work with the Home Health Care department. Her coworkers described Sister Agnes as a woman who is “willing to serve,” “cheerful,” “makes people smile,” “carries her Christian spirit to all she meets,” “the coolest nun,” and filled with “compassion and intelligence.” One coworker wrote that “Sister Agnes’ compassion and kindness are the kind of traits that all nurses should emulate.”
Wearing three hats: Sister, Nurse, and Teacher
In addition to her work with Home Health patients, she also is an instructor and coordinator of the Licensed Practical Nursing Program at Kaskaskia College, Centralia, IL.
Mary Lou Whitten, Kaskaskia College Director of Nursing Education Programs, is grateful that “such an experienced nurse and instructor is part of the staff.” “Students have only the nicest things to say in their evaluations of Sister Agnes including her willingness to share personal stories to help them understand theory, skills and procedures,” Mary Lou said. “Sister Agnes brings with her a wealth of nursing education information coupled with a compassion for students and an eagerness to be a part of their learning. She has such a dedication to the profession of nursing and the education of future nurses,” Mary Lou added.
In thanksgiving for many blessings
“I enjoy teaching nursing because it has always seemed to me to be like Theology – there is always something more to learn,” Sister Agnes said. When asked for a message that she can pass on to her students, Sister Agnes answered with a smile that “a life lived for others is the greatest blessing and a life lived in a religious community is one great way to make it happen.”