Sister John Kenneth Scott

August 29, 1926 - December 3, 2017

Insightful, plain speaking, prayerful

Kathleen Linnea Scott was born August 29, 1926, to Kenneth and Kathleen (Cavill) Scott of Escanaba, Michigan. Her siblings were her older sister, Mary Ann, and later, younger brother, Kenny.

As a child Kathleen liked to go hunting with her dad and was also an avid reader. As a teenager, helping a cousin who was a nurse, helped her decide on a nursing career. When she found out that the Army would pay for her nursing education, she joined the U.S. Cadet Nurse Program. She completed a three-year nurses training program at Providence Hospital (Detroit) staffed by the Daughters of Charity. In 1952, she received a BSN from Marquette University (Milwaukee). While there, she met some Sisters of St. Joseph and discovered that they had a school of nursing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. For the next four years, she taught physical and biological sciences there.

Kathleen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, September 15, 1956. She received the habit and the name Sister John Kenneth, March 19, 1957. Her nursing ministry began at St. Joseph Hospital, Kirkwood, Missouri, as a nursing supervisor (March to August, 1959). She then served at St. Joseph Hospital, Hancock, Michigan, as a nursing educator. In 1963, S. John Kenneth began her master’s degree in nursing education administration at The Catholic University of America, graduating in 1965.

Returning to St. Joseph Hospital in Hancock as director of the nursing school, she additionally assumed the duties of assistant administrator for the hospital in 1969. “We had a strike for five weeks. All the non-professionals were out on strike ... It was an awful experience. I ran what you call a ‘scab cab.’ I went out and picked up anybody who would be willing to cross the picket line, and I’d get them in the van and bring them in and they would work, and then I’d take them home ... A couple of times, people who formed the picket line rocked my van until I thought they were going to dump me over, until the police came along and stopped them."

Sister Rita McGovern, also there, remembers that “Staff … left their positions and walked the picket line outside the hospital singing ‘We shall overcome the sisters' ... Several employees after seeing the courage that S. John Kenneth had during the strike would say about her ‘she is one tough Cookie' ... I had a lot of respect for her."

S. John Kenneth became nurse administration assistant and director of health-services at Cardinal Ritter Institute, St. Louis (1974), and then assistant administrator at St. Joseph Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri (1976). In 1979, S. John Kenneth served as an administration consultant at Cardinal Ritter Senior Services and as staff nurse at Alexian Brothers Hospital. In October of 1979, she transitioned to Mary Queen and Mother, part of Cardinal Ritter, as both a staff nurse and administration consultant.

Administrator at Nazareth Convent (1982) was her next ministry. Following that, she served as administrator at the Carondelet Center Chalon Road, Los Angeles, California (1989). She returned to Mary Queen and Mother for one year, as the director of personnel (1990), followed by a year as staff nurse at Alexian Brothers Hospital (1991).

After a sabbatical at Mount St. Mary College in Los Angeles, S. John Kenneth became bookkeeper for St. Joseph Motherhouse, St. Louis (1993). Retiring in 2001, she drove for the Office of Aging, also volunteering where needed. Commenting on Community she said: “I live with people that I might never have even met had I not entered the community. But we formed community … we like each other … we get along ... We are ‘sisters.’ So, ‘sister’ has a different meaning to me now. It isn’t just a matter of wearing the same clothes and following the same horarium. It’s accepting one another.”

In 2007, she moved to Nazareth Living Center continuing her ministry through prayer and presence.

By Sister Helen Oates