Sister Mary Bonavita (Kathleen) Cannon, C.S.C. (1907-1997)
Kathleen Cannon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1925. One of the youngest missionary sisters, not only in age but in years of service, Sister Bonavita made her way to Bengal, now Bangladesh, in 1932 on the S.S. Paris sailing from Los Angeles, California. It is reported that she “brought her cheerful nature and youthful enthusiasm to the Foreign Mission Convent in Washington, D.C. It is further reported in a brief article in a 1932 issue of mission periodical, The Bengalese, that a group “[Held] an informal reception on the 15th street docks and in the spacious lounges of the S.S. Paris, the Bonavita Club, with many a bon voyage and many flowers on her [Sister Bonavita’s] way to India. The Bonavita Club whose members are largely drawn from the parishioners of New York’s wonderful Paulist Church, St. Paul the Apostle, was organized only a month ago when it was learned that Sister Bonavita who had taught in the Paulist School was going to Bengal. Although the youngest of our mission clubs, the Bonavita Club has already displayed the mission activity of a veteran missionary organization.” In a letter, written in February of 1932, Sister Bonavita and Sister Helen Xavier (Manes) write about their time at sea and in Rome, “Yes, we were terrible sailors. Seasickness, ugh! One night a porthole flew open and in rushed the sea. It was at dinner and it was really comical to see the diners fall over the chairs in the hurry to get to the deck. (Pst, we nearly fell over, too!) In Rome the greatest event was our audience with the Holy Father [Pius XI]. Colorful Swiss Guards challenged us at the gates, we passed through mazes of audience rooms, all crowed with officials in most picturesque costumes. When the Holy Father, such a kindly, gentle figure, came in, we knelt and kissed his ring. He said a few words of encouragement, blessed us and our friends at home, and it was over.” While in Bengal Sister Bonavita served at St. Anthony School in Nagari. Returning to the States in 1935, she worked in various schools and hospitals for the next 60 years. Sister Bonavita died at St. Catherine’s Convent, Ventura, California, in 1997 and is buried in Santa Clara Cemetery, Oxnard, California. Ave Crux Spes Unica!