Anna Elizabeth Hennessey, age 24, passed away at home after a year-long battle against cancer, on November 11, 2021, surrounded by family and loved ones.
Anna lived her life guided by her faith. As the lead altar server and a Confirmation peer minister at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC, she shared her faith with hundreds of young people through words, action and sacramental preparation. Following high school, Anna attended the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, joining her new faith community to fill a pew at Sunday evening Mass and volunteering at a local elementary school. When she was diagnosed with melanoma in June 2020, Anna was finishing a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest in Sitka, Alaska, where she served as an Independent Living Specialist/Outdoor Recreation and Community Access Coordinator at Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL).
Anna’s love for all of God’s creatures is reflected in her time spent fostering puppies for Wolf Trap Animal Rescue and volunteering at Lift-Me-Up Therapeutic Riding Center. Spending a semester abroad in Tanzania, she broadened her interest in conservation biology through her research project on elephants. Then in Sitka, she followed her lifelong love of birds when she fell in love with Sophie, an American Kestrel, while volunteering at the Alaska Raptor Center. Her college admissions essay described her connection with horses, and her happy place was snuggling with her favorite pups on the couch.
From sports to school, Anna always gave everything her best. She grew up playing soccer and basketball in Falls Church City leagues. She then played on the inaugural field hockey team at George Mason High School. She was also on the school’s lacrosse team and coached youth basketball in her spare time. At Holy Cross, Anna played club rugby and rode equestrian. In Sitka, she discovered the beauty of hiking, kayaking through crystal clear waters, and exploring cascading waterfalls. Anna was a lifelong learner and a devotee of science. She graduated with an IB diploma from George Mason High School in 2015, and earned her bachelor of arts degree from Holy Cross in 2019 where she majored in biology and minored in neuroscience.
Anna’s many friendships were deep and vast. She accepted people as they were and valued their unique qualities. From her oldest friends to the most recent ones made through melanoma support groups, emergency department visits, imaging centers, infusion rooms, and hospital stays, she engaged everyone with a smile, even when in pain. As she often said, she never wanted to be the worst part of someone’s day.
Her life was far too brief but still, she lived it well and will be missed by so very many. She is survived by her parents, Jim and Annette, and her brother Jack, as well as many family members and friends.
A Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC on December 4th at 10:30 a.m. with private inurnment in Holy Rood Cemetery. The funeral mass will also be available via livestream from Holy Trinity Church at www.trinity.org/anna. Her family will hold visiting hours on Friday, December 3rd from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at National Funeral Home in Falls Church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Life With Cancer (Fairfax, VA) which helped Anna and her family deal with the challenge of cancer or SAIL (Sitka, AK) which supports and provides services to Sitka’s most vulnerable communities.