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Sister Francis of Assisi Kay

by RSHM Eastern American AreaCategory: Obituaries5 Comments

woman with gray hair smiling at camera in white blouse wtih embroidery

Sister Francis of Assisi Kay, RSHM, died at Marymount Convent, Tarrytown, NY, on Monday, February 6, 2023. She was 96 years of age and had been a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary for 75 years.

She was born Monica Anne Kay in Grand Rapids, MI, on March 31, 1926, to Adam John and Veronica Waitkunas Kay.

She received a BA in Art from Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY, and an MA in Religion from Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY. She was certified by the Professional Massage Center in St. Paul, MN, and was an accredited Tai Chi Chih teacher.

She entered the congregation on February 2, 1946, at the RSHM Novitiate in Tarrytown, NY, and made her first vows there on August 26, 1947. She made her final vows on August 23, 1952, at the Mother House of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Béziers, France.

After making her first vows, Sister Francis of Assisi worked in the office at Marymount Tarrytown for one year (1947-1948). Missioned to Italy, she taught in Rome at Istituto Marymount (1948-1962) and Marymount International School (1962-1968). During her time in Rome, she was also Director of Religious Education at the Naval Base in Naples.

Sister Francis of Assisi taught in France at Marymount School, Neuilly for one year (1970-1971) before returning to Rome where she taught at Marymount International School and in a parish religious education program (1971-1975).

She went to Zambia to help with mission work of the sisters of the English/Irish Province of the RSHM (1975-1977). She was a parish minister at Good Shepherd Parish, Brooklyn, NY (1977-1980). In Mutare, Zimbabwe, she was the religious education coordinator for the Diocese and a lecturer at Marymount Teachers College ZINTEC (1980-1983).

Returning to the United States, she served on the Marymount Convent staff for one year (1983-1984).

Sister Francis of Assisi ministered at the Wholistic Growth Program, Little Falls, MN, as a member of the staff (1984-1985). To help in this new phase of ministry, she enrolled in the Professional Massage Center, St. Paul, MN, training program (1985-1988). Then certified in massage and other forms of holistic therapy, she rejoined the staff of the Wholistic Growth Program, Little Falls, MN (1988-1996).

When she had served in Africa, the sisters living in Zimbabwe were members of the Eastern American Province of the RSHM and those living in Zambia were members of the English/Irish Province. In 1996, the two groups merged to form the Zambezi Region.

Sister Francis of Assisi returned to Africa in 1997, became a member of the new Zambezi Region, and served there for 11 years (1997-2008). In Zambia, she was a director of religious education and led workshops promoting interchurch relations. In Zimbabwe, she offered massage therapy, holistic treatments, and pastoral care to AIDS patients.

She moved to Marymount Convent in 2008, and a few months later officially transferred to the Eastern American Province. Although retired from active ministry, she continued to offer her services as a massage therapist to the sisters living at the Convent. She was living at Marymount Convent at the time of her death.

Sister Francis of Assisi is predeceased by her parents and all four of her siblings – Irene Kay Mathis, Walter Kay, Norah Kay McLaughlin and Francis Kay. She is survived by sisters-in-law Diane Kay and Ruth Kay, nieces and nephews, and by the members of her religious community.    

Services will be held at Marymount Convent, 32 Warren Avenue, Tarrytown, NY. Visiting is Wednesday, February 8, 4:00 – 7:00 pm with the Vigil Service at 7:00 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Thursday, February 9, at 10:30 am. Burial is at Mount Calvary Cemetery, White Plains.

Because of Covid concerns, we ask all non-RSHM attending to please wear a mask.

We invite you to join us for the live-streamed Vigil Service and Mass on our website (, where they will be archived.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in her name may be made to Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, 50 Wilson Park Drive, Tarrytown, NY, 10591.

5 thoughts on “Sister Francis of Assisi Kay”

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    What a wonderful person Sister Francis of Assisi was! I always enjoyed my conversations with her as she passed by my office on her way to meditation group. May she rest in the presence of her loving God she served so well🕯🔥

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    An extraordinary lady. Everyone knew her as Sister Francis, I knew her as Aunt Monica. The number of accomplishments is staggering and impressive. She will be missed by many, but she has now been re-joined with my mother, Nora, McLaughlin, and her other siblings, uncle Walter, uncle, Frank, and Irene, and so many others that are related. Rest in peace you have reached your reward.

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    I remember Mother Francis (as they were called then) from my years at Marymount Rome. I’m sure she is rejoicing now! I never saw her without the cowl and veil, but as I look at the picture I remember her face. I think everyone who knew her realized the depth of her devotion and commitment. She has earned her retirement, and has gone Home after a lifetime of service. Requirescat in pacem.

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    Remembering Sister Francis, Aunt Monica to our children, with love and prayers.
    We spent many Easters celebrating together and will continue to do so in prayer with our great cloud of witnesses. Rest in peace, dear Monica, with all our loved ones gone before.

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    Sister Francis will always be remembered for her never ending smile and selfless love and care. We knew her from Mabelreign Parish in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was always a pleasure to interact with her. May the Lord grant her the eternal peace that she herself brought to others. R.I.P. and Glory Sister Francis.

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