Car crash claims life of second Rochester Sister of Mercy - Catholic Courier
Sister Joanne Deck Sister Joanne Deck

Car crash claims life of second Rochester Sister of Mercy

A second Rochester Sister of Mercy has succumbed to injuries sustained in a two-vehicle crash near Erie, Pa.

Sister Joanne Deck, RSM, died July 19 at UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie at approximately 6:15 p.m. According to a Pennsylvania State Police report, Sister Deck, 75, was the driver of a 2017 Chevrolet Equinox SUV that collided with a 2014 Dodge Ram truck at 9:53 a.m. on July 16 in East Township, Pa. Sister Deck was airlifted to the hospital where doctors were unsuccessful with life-saving surgeries.

The police report noted that Sister Deck’s SUV was traveling south on Gay Road and stopped at the intersection of Lake Road. It then proceeded straight through the intersection, at which point it was struck on the driver’s side by the pickup truck. The sisters’ vehicle rolled over and came to rest on its wheels in a grass area north of Lake Road.

Sister Arlene Semesky, RSM, 79, a passenger in the SUV, died July 16 at the scene of the accident. The SUV’s two other passengers, Sister Katharine Ann Rappl and Sister Marissa Butler, were transported by ambulance to UPMC Hamot Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Two juvenile male passengers in the truck also were brought by ambulance to UPMC Hamot Hospital for minor injuries.

Sisters Rappl and Butler will continue their recoveries at the Mercy Center in Erie, according to Sister Kathleen Wayne, a leader for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester, Buffalo, Erie and Pittsburgh.

Sisters Deck, Semesky and Rappl lived together at the St. Rita Parish convent in Webster. Sister Butler lives in Omaha, Neb., and had resided in Webster with the other three sisters during her novitiate. Sister Wayne noted that Sisters Semesky, Deck and Rappl had gone to visit Sister Butler the weekend of July 15-16 while she was on retreat in Erie; all four were on their way to Mass when the accident occurred.

“We are leaning on our faith,” Sister Wayne said July 20, describing how the Rochester Sisters of Mercy are coping with the sudden and tragic loss of two congregation members.

Sister Deck entered the Sisters of Mercy 57 years ago. She taught at St. Thomas the Apostle School and St. Salome School, both in Irondequoit; was an administrator and teacher at Corning Catholic School North; and was a guidance counselor and teacher at Cardinal Mooney High School in Greece.

In 1985, Sister Deck began a 24-year tenure as a missionary in Chile. After returning to the Rochester Diocese in 2009, she organized activities for many years in the health-care unit of the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse.

Funeral arrangements for Sisters Deck and Semesky are pending. Sister Wayne noted that a special Mass in honor of the two Mercy sisters is being offered at St. Rita Church July 20, beginning at 6 p.m. following 30 minutes of adoration. The Mass will be livestreamed on St. Rita’s website.

According to a statement from the Diocese of Rochester, the regularly scheduled 12:15 p.m. Mass at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Gates July 20 was offered “for the repose of the soul of Sister Joanne Deck, RSM, and for the Sisters of Mercy who mourn her loss.”

Tags: Religious Orders
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