It is a concept she still wrestles with on occasion, but through her support system, bravery in sharing her experiences and willingness to seek help, Hennessey has found new confidence and a sense of purpose in helping others. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with Hennessey being honored with the 2021 Shining Star Award from the La Crosse Area Mental Health Coalition.
“I think for me it’s a recognition of the work we are all doing in the community,” Hennessey says, sharing the spotlight with mental health advocates area-wide. “To know that I can live a full and functioning life with mental health issues, I think that can be important to see. I have a beautiful, fulfilling life and I have mental health issues. Both of those are true.”
Hennessey, who was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and a personality disorder as an adult, joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 2002, giving first vows three years later and final vows in 2011. As a requirement to become a sister, Hennessey had undergone a psychiatric evaluation, and some of her mental health issues intensified after she made vows. However, the Sisters and the church were instrumental in lifting her up.