"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

HENNESSY, Mary Vincent

From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search

HENNESSY, Mary Vincent. (Kilkenny, Ireland, 1821--Dubuque, IA, Feb. 19, 1880). Ellen Hennessy attended the school staffed by Presentation sisters in her hometown, Castlecomer, Ireland. Here she became a Sister of the Presentation, receiving the name Sister Mary Magdalen. After serving effectively in her home community, the Kilkenny Presentation community requested that she join them, not an uncommon practice among the small Irish foundations. (1)

At Kilkenny there was another sister with the name Magdalen, so St. Vincent de Paul became the choice patron of our traveling sister and she became known as Mother Vincent Hennessy. Her responsibilities in Kilkenny consisted of assistant to the superior and treasurer. Some time later the Presentation Convent in Mooncoin requested her services. Upon her transfer, Mother Vincent was immediately elected Mother Superior; she served two terms. (2)

During his visit to Ireland, Bishop John HENNESSY met Mother Hennessy and arranged for her to establish a branch of the order in Dubuque. With three companions, she established the motherhouse in Key West. As the order grew, two other houses each with a school were conducted by members of the same order. (3)

The Dubuque Presentation Foundation was established in 1875 when Mother Vincent Hennessy left the Presentation convent in Mooncoin, Ireland, with three young women, to teach the immigrant children of Iowa. Mother Vincent inspired others to live out the Presentation motto, Caritas (charity). Despite challenging beginnings, the Dubuque Presentation community flourished. Today the Sisters of the Presentation follow in Mother Vincent’s footsteps by serving in education, pastoral ministry, chaplaincy and advocacy for the disadvantaged and those made poor throughout the United States and Bolivia. (4)

In the celebration of Mother Vincent and the Dubuque Presentation Foundation, the Sisters of the Presentation offer a $500 Mother Vincent Hennessy Foundation Scholarship to a student from WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, which Presentation sisters have actively supported since its inception. The scholarship will go toward the college tuition of a deserving student who plans to further his/her education and who meets the following criteria: (45

   uses his or her God-given talents for the betterment of others
   exemplifies exceptional service
   needs financial assistance
   satisfactorily completes the application and provides two letters of recommendation



1. "Mother Vincent Hennessy," Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Online: http://dubuquepresentations.org/aboutus_leadership_hennessy.cfm

2. Ibid.

3. "Death of Mother Hennessy of the Order of Presentation Nuns," Dubuque Herald, February 21, 1880, p. 4, Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800221&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "Mother Vincent Hennessy Scholarship," Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Online: http://dubuquepresentations.org/services_scholar_mother_vincent_hennessy.cfm

5. Ibid.