Sister Kevin (Mary Ellen) Burns was born in County Cork, Ireland on November 16, 1937, the only girl in a family of brothers. At the age of 13, she came to live in Rhode Island with relatives who became a second family to her and gave her a new country. “I can never be grateful enough for being an American,” she would say. Realizing on a trip to Ireland that she had become too American to return permanently, yet she loved her Irish heritage intensely. Later, as Sister Kevin, she would treasure a visit to Glencairn Abbey, made at the time of her mother’s death.
After college she worked in an insurance company, uncertain of her future, assuming eventual marriage. Her call to the monastery was swift, dramatic, and probably Irish. While driving with a friend, she caught sight of our monastery sign by the road and, knowing nothing of what lay behind it, said to her companion, “Please take me to see it. That’s where I belong.” And she did, entering in 1960 and making Solemn Profession on September 14, 1968.
Warm and exuberant, her laughter filled the house—and sometimes raised the roof. Yet Sister Kevin was also drawn to an atmosphere of tranquility, peace, and order. She longed for quiet prayer and silence, while her gift for organization continually called her into work that was pressured and complex. She kept in her heart a piece of wisdom early learned: some have to give more for the sake of others.
On February 10, 1991, she left for a Canon Law Seminar at Genesee Abbey, fiercely excited yet already homesick. She was to have returned on February 24. Instead, Providence in the form of an unavoidable car accident has brought her to a better homecoming, one in which both sides of her rich and generous nature are totally fulfilled.