In poring over every piece of paper passed along to our family from Agnes Tully Stevens’ belongings, I, of course, hope to find some clue that would lead me to other family links. I know there are other Tully and Stevens family connections out there—I have seen their fingerprints. And yet, mysteriously, those clues remain just out of reach.
Those clues taunt me, for instance, when I find a newspaper clipping regarding a Flanagan or Flannigan saved among this grandmother’s papers. Spelling, during that busy immigration era here in the United States, seemed an easily-discarded formality. Where did the rest of that Flanagan/Flannigan family go?
I have followed cold trails in vain attempts to link various Flannigans with our own Tully line’s heritage. So don’t tempt me now. Please.
And yet, here it is again: a newspaper clipping carefully saved for over one hundred years. And tantalizingly, it mentions that surname again.
The eulogy for the greatly-missed Sister Mary Mercy of Saint Anne’s parish and parochial school evidently included one small mention of her earthly heritage. The difficulty in tracing genealogical records involving relatives who chose a cloistered life is that deliberate, though non-civil, change of name. Especially for those women entering the convents of the nineteenth century, I find tracing them challenging. Perhaps that is partially owing to my own non-Catholic heritage, and my ignorance of historical Catholic tradition in this regard.
In the midst of recounting this Sister’s work in the various parochial schools in the Chicago area, and while detailing the officiants involved in the Mass during her funeral, this several-page article slips in one name: Rev. John Flannigan of Rockford, Illinois. According to this history, he is the nephew of Sister Mary Mercy.
Maddeningly, though the article mentions a brother and several sisters surviving her, the author takes pains to never mention those relatives’ names. Yet, with the mention of this one priest—thankfully listed by name—I know that Sister Mary Mercy has one familial connection to secular life.
So…whether friend, counselor, or confidant of the young Agnes Tully, I do know one thing: Sister Mary Mercy was a Flannigan.
Finally Sister Mary Mercy and others came to St. Anne’s Parish to open the Parochial School. In her immediate family she leaves to mourn her loss, besides the Rev. Mother Mary Xavier, Superioress of the Mercy Order at St. Xavier’s Academy and Sister Mary Evangelist, Superioress of St. Cecelia’s Parochial School, one brother and several sisters.
Sister Mary Mercy’s funeral was a grand tribute to the humble, self-sacrificing, kind Sister of Mercy and she must have looked down from heaven and rejoiced at the hundreds who came to show their love and veneration for their friend and benefactress. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered by a nephew of the departed Sister, Rev. John Flannigan of Rockford, Ill., assisted by Rev. J. R. Kearney and Rev. D. J. Tuohy of St. Anne’s as deacon and sub-deacon, and Rev. Edward Hoban, D.D., Chancellor, as master of ceremonies. Our beloved Archbishop delivered the funeral oration. In it he dwelt at length on the life of the religious, her joys, her sorrows and her trials; and in particular on the life of Sister Mary Mercy, the good she accomplished and the way she endeared herself to the hearts of all the young and old, during the many years of her stay at St. Anne’s. In the sanctuary besides His Grace, Archbishop Quigley, were Rt. Rev. Bishop McGavick and over one hundred of the clergy. The Sacred Heart College Choir chanted the mass.