Mercy Sister Mary Sullivan; professor, dean, author - Catholic Courier
An older woman smiles. (Photo courtesy of Mercy International/Dublin)

(Photo courtesy of Mercy International, Dublin)

Mercy Sister Mary Sullivan; professor, dean, author

Sister of Mercy Mary Sullivan died March 21, 2023. She was 91 years old.

Sister Sullivan entered the congregation in 1950 after graduating from Our Lady of Mercy High School in 1949. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Nazareth College, followed by a master’s degree in arts and doctorate in English from the University of Notre Dame. She also received an master’s degree in systemic theology from the University of London, England.

Sister Sullivan taught at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton and Catherine McAuley College, of which she later became president. After leaving Catherine McAuley College, she joined the teaching staff at Marymount College in Tarrytown, followed by 33 years at Rochester Institute of Technology. Sister Sullivan was named dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Studies and later dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts. She was a professor of language and literature for several years at RIT. After nearly 40 years of full-time teaching, she became professor emerita of literature and dean emerita of the RIT College of Liberal Arts.

Sister Sullivan was the author of numerous works chronicling the life and mission of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. Her works include The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley, 1818-1841 (2004), Catherine McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy (1995) and The Path of Mercy: The life of Catherine McAuley (2012). She also edited several books and many articles on Mother McAuley’s service to the poor, the sick and the uneducated.

She also published numerous scholarly articles, including a rhetorical study of the autobiography of Teresa of Avila.

Sister Sullivan served as chairperson of the task force on the Pastoral Letter on Women in the Church for the Diocese of Rochester. For more than 30 years, she shared the Mercy story through seminars and retreats all over the world. She also served on the Mercy International Archives Commission and the Mercy International Research Commission.

She is survived by sisters-in-law Diane Sullivan, Judy Sullivan and Penny Sullivan; nephews and nieces; and her sisters in the congregation.

Sister Sullivan’s funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. April 1, 2023, at the Mercy Center chapel, 1437 Blossom Road, Brighton, with viewing for 45 minutes prior to the start of Mass. The funeral will be livestreamed at

Burial will follow at Rochester’s Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Donations in Sister Sullivan’s memory may be made to the Sisters of Mercy, 1437 Blossom Road, Rochester, NY 14610.

Tags: Religious Orders
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