homepage logo

Community in mourning

By Staff | Oct 1, 2009

Parishioners at St. Andrew Catholic Church said goodbye for the last time to two local nuns who died tragically in a vehicle collision Sunday.
Visitation for Sister Ann McFall, 84, and Sister Karinne O’Malley, 80, was held early Wednesday morning at the church followed by a funeral Mass, before the two educators and community advocates were laid to rest.
The five priests from St. Andrew’s, including Father Mark Heuberger, were joined by 15 others in the Diocese of Venice, each of whom contributed to the service. Father Tim Murphy, a former pastor at St. Andrew’s, returned to Cape Coral this week to participate.
Murphy founded the K-8 school in 1989 with the help of six sisters, one them being Sister O’Malley.
While driving in North Fort Myers, Sisters McFall, O’Malley and Elizabeth Meegan, principal of St. Andrew Catholic School, were struck by a Chevy Tahoe driven by 60-year-old resident Michael Hickman, who was injured.
Sister Meegan, 67, survived the crash and was released from Lee Memorial Hospital earlier this week after sustaining serious injuries.
She attended Wednesday’s Mass.
Sheila Valin has been acting as temporary principal at St. Andrew’s Catholic School while Sister Meegan recovers.
Prioress Patricia Mulcahey, from the Wisconsin-based Sinsinawa Dominicans, an order that both of the nuns belonged to, released a statement on their passing. Currently, there are more than 600 nuns across the world who are Sinsinawa Dominicans.
“We grieve the loss of Sister Ann and Sister Karinne, two holy women who had a tremendous impact on the people with whom they served and worked,” said Mulcahey.
During the Mass, Father Heuberger read some letters were sent from other parishes and from Bishop Frank Dewane.
“It is a tremendous loss, the passing of these two sisters,” he said. “Ann and Karinne have bestowed gifts that have no price.”
O’Malley was born Oct. 25, 1928 in Chicago, Ill., and joined the Sinsinawa Dominicans in 1949.
She worked as a grade school teacher in Wisconsin, Alabama, Iowa, New York and Illinois before moving to Cape Coral in 1988. At St. Andrew, she served as an administrative assistant for the parish and school and in 1996 began tutoring migrant students in Bonita Springs.
Dr. Carmine Macedonio, director of Religious Education at St. Andrew’s, said he remembered O’Malley because she was one of original nuns who hired him at the school.
At the school she was active in music and performing arts, he said.
“Sister Karinne did drama and music years ago, then she went to Bonita Springs to work with the migrant workers,” said Macedonio. “It was a beautiful service, simple and profound.”
McFall was also born in Chicago on Aug. 25, 1925 and joined the Sinsinawa Dominicans in 1943. She also worked as a teacher in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and a principal in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arizona. In 2007 she came to Cape Coral and worked as a volunteer for the church.
Earlier this week the school brought in counselors to help the grieving children, and a special Mass was held for the school on Monday morning. Groups of students were also brought to the church for the public Mass on Wednesday.
Lt. Chris Miller, spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol, said results of the investigation could take up to 60 days. Officers are awaiting Hickman’s blood test taken at the site of the accident.
No charges have been filed.