Maryknoll Sister Hyacinth Kunkel

Lost while fleeing the war

sr hyacinth kunkelSister Hyacinth Kunkel was born on  December 21, 1898 in New York City.  She worked as a stenographer for two yuears before entering the Maryknoll Sisters on September 23, 1923, and made her final profession on April 30, 1026.  She was then assigned to St. Paul's Hospital April 12, 1927, and  later was assigned to Baguio, Philippines on September 21, 1929 as Guest Mistress and a Kindergarten Teacher.

When the Americans returned to retake the Philippines during the Pacific campaign, they were bombing Baguio in the Mt. Province of Luzon.  On the day after Easter, Sisters Una (Irish and so not interned), Hyacinth (ill for many years and so not interned), and Carmencita a Filipina, joined a large caravan of evacuees bound for the lowlands.  They were able to keep together until when the caravan rested.  However they soon became separated.  When the caravan proceeded, Sister Hyacinth could not be found among those on the march.  An immediate search for her of the surrounding terrain proved unsuccessful.  Rumor then spread that a segment of the caravan had taken a fork at a road which presumably was a shorter route to their destination.  Hoping Sister Hyacinth was with that group, Sisters Una and Carmencita proceeded to the lowlands with the caravan and arrived in safety at the American encampment, only to find that Sister Hyacinth had not arrived.

Despite a number of searches conducted by the US military and civilians, no trace of Sister was ever found.  Sistter Hyacinth is remembered for her beautiful voice and a favorite song which she sang to the delight of her Sister novices earlier at Maryknoll - Where my caravan has rested.  

The military authorities in Manila declared Sister Hyacinth officially dead with the presumptive date of death as April 5, 1945.  On the Eve of April 5, 1949, on the anniversary of her presumptive death a memorial bronze plaque was hung in the Motherhouse chapel.