Born in 1941, May was the first daughter of Andrew and Margaret Leonard of St. Patrick’s Parish Dundee, a sister to her two elder brothers. She was born and baptised in Motherwell as her mum had gone to her own mother’s home prior to her birth as her dad was away during the war.
She attended St Patrick’s primary school, during which time her younger sister Bunty was born in 1946. The family then moved to new house in Kirkton, Dundee. This was before St Columba’s was built and the area was a satellite parish administered by Ss Peter & Paul’s.
May then started her secondary education at Lawside Academy and she began to go to Wellburn Home in Lochee as a helper after school and at weekends, that was where whilst working with sisters that vocation was nurtured. May left school and trained as a nursery nurse but she had already decided to pursue her vocation and on 1st August 1959 she entered St. Joseph’s home in Royston Hill Glasgow to begin her religious journey.
She was professed in Dublin on the 5th June 1962 then worked in Whipps Cross Hospital in London where she qualified as a nurse. Then she spent some time in France and made her final profession on 15th October 1967. Her first posting was to North Africa where she served periods in Algiers, Oran and Anaba; she was then sent as Mother Superior to Mombasa.
She was then named Provincial for the newly formed Province of Africa. She had a fear of flying but this was the only way to cover these vast distances in the African Province, but she coped with it with humility and a total trust in God. She served as Provincial for approximately twelve years where she encouraged many vocations among the youth who frequented the homes. She returned as Mother Superior to Glasgow where she was heavily involved in seeking out a site and then the building and furnishing of a new home, then the moving of residents, staff and equipment from the old St Joseph’s to the lovely new St Joseph’s in Robroyston.
The late Cardinal Winning presented Sister Monica with the Pro Ecclesia medal for her services to the Church and the congregation. From there she was appointed mother to Reims in France. After that she was Mother in Sunderland, Leeds, Newcastle then Raheny in Dublin for six years. Finally, she was appointed back to St. Joseph’s Glasgow. Everywhere she was greatly respected and loved by all the little sisters. It was there after a few years her health began to deteriorate and she was moved to The Holy Rosary home in Greenock in December 2018. She coped patiently with her long illness and on the evening of the 18th October, surrounded by her congregation who had cared for her so lovingly and diligently she peacefully went home to God.
She is sadly missed by all her family. May she rest in peace.