S. Marie Agnese Bonanno

“We visited every home in the Holy Name [Cleveland, Ohio] parish boundaries regardless of religious affiliation,” S. Marie Agnese recalled of her initiation into social work in 1933. Ten years later she was one of the pioneers in the Cincinnati Catholic Charities’ School Social Service Program, followed by terms of service at Santa Maria Institute and St. Joseph Infant Home. She came by her efforts in social work naturally. As a youngster she and her siblings often visited the elderly in their Lima, Ohio, neighborhood, bringing them fruit from her father’s store.

This woman, whose eyes often sparkled with humor, warmly reached out with her big heart and her wide vision to children with special needs, to poor families, and to unwed mothers and their babies. No one was beyond her interest and concern.

Hospitals served as the next venue for Sister’s ministry. She established a medical social service department at Good Samaritan Hospital, Dayton, Ohio, in the 1960s and the following decade served at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. Her unbounded energy and infectious charm drew many into her warm embrace