Sister Patricia McGrenra, 94, cared for neglected children in Baltimore

May 03, 1994

Sister Mary Patricia McGrenra, O.S.F., who cared for neglected children and relied on the kindness of Baltimore police officers to help her do her work, died Friday of heart failure at the mother house of the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore in Ednor Gardens. She was 94.

Sister Patricia was born and reared in County Donegal, Ireland. She joined the order in 1920 in Mill Hill, England, and came to the United States six years later to minister to orphans in Wilmington, N.C.

She worked in Norfolk and Richmond, Va., before coming to Baltimore in 1937 to work at St. Elizabeth's Home for children.

"She and her sisters had no money whatsoever and raised funds literally by begging in the streets," said Sister Margaret Mary Sullivan.

"In Baltimore, she would go down to police headquarters on Fayette Street on a regular basis to talk to the officers and ask them for contributions.

"She always found police officers to be generous. She had many, many friends in the Police Department and all over the city."

Her beneficiaries were Baltimore's poor children, who found a haven at St. Elizabeth's until it was closed in 1961, Sister Margaret said.

"She didn't stop there," Sister Margaret said. "She continued to raise funds and provide care and food to the poor all over the city right up until last Christmas -- right up until the end of her life."

A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 11 a.m. today at the motherhouse, 3725 Ellerslie Ave., followed by interment in the convent cemetery.

She is survived by two brothers, Charles McGrenra of Portsmouth Hants, England, and Jerry McGrenra of County Donegal; two sisters, Susan Gibbons and Hannah Devine, both of County Donegal; and a niece, Sister Mary Patricia McGrenra, I.H.M., of Philadelphia.

Memorials donations may be made to the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, 3725 Ellerslie Ave., Baltimore 21218.

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