Nine Sisters of Mercy are noting their jubilees in 2023 - Catholic Courier

Nine Sisters of Mercy are noting their jubilees in 2023

The following Sisters of Mercy are celebrating jubilees in 2023.

75 Years

Sister O’Brien: Thankful for ministries and those with whom she worked, ministered

Sr. Lisette O'Brien
Sr. Lisette O’Brien

While a jubilee is for celebrating the life of a person for reaching a banner year, Sister Lisette O’Brien believes that the jubilee should be a time to celebrate those who helped her reach the grace and great blessings of those banner years. “Where,” she asked, “would we be without the help of others? I’m looking on this jubilee with gratitude and pride to be a part of the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy and to be journeying with these great women religious who are helping others in need. There are and have been so many generous and dedicated people who work, pray and act with us in each ministry.”

Sister O’Brien entered the congregation on Aug. 29, 1948. She served 31 years in teaching ministries, starting at the former St. Andrew School, Our Lady of Mercy and Cardinal Mooney High Schools. She became the pastoral assistant first at St. Jerome and later for the Cayuga Cluster, and served at Tioga County Rural Ministry from 1994 to 2002, where she was director. Sister O’Brien currently works in Candle-With-Care Studio, one of four artists making new candles from donated used wax. “All of these ministries had successes and failures,” she said. “Yet from the compost of conflict and divisions sprouts newness of living differently and surprises.”

Reflecting on her life as a Sister of Mercy, she said, “Thank you to our creator God, to my parents and family. Thank you also to those who worked in these many ministries with me, those whom we served, and those whose friendship and wisdom blessed our days and lives. You are with me and in my heart and prayers. We do nothing alone. I gratefully celebrate you in this jubilee.”

Ring motto: Fiat pro te, tecum (May it be done for thee, with thee)

70 Years

Sister Erskine: Thanks God for 70 years of places and graces

Sr. Diane Marie Erskine
Sr. Diane Marie Erskine

Sister Diane Marie Erskine believes that God designs our lives. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, and she describes her 70 years as a Sister of Mercy with the word “call,” heard many ways and at several times. The call to be an educator, a teacher and in administration; as principal in Rochester, Elmira and Bath; and in counseling and teaching at Our Lady of Mercy High School — that call came as she completed her education at Nazareth College and the University of Dayton. Sister Diane Erskine also worked in development for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester. She is presently co-manager of Kate’s Gift Shop located at Mercy Center on Blossom Road.

Sister Diane Marie describes these years as “steps fulfilling the design God has for me.” She is grateful for the people of God whose lives have touched hers, especially for her family, close friends, and those wonderfully dedicated people in ministry. “This journey,” she said, “in God’s design, has been like steps of love and joy for me. I thank God for all the places and graces along the way. I feel blessed.”

Ring motto: Suscipe me, Domine (Accept me, O Lord)

Sister Geraghty: Ministries included teacher, rural minister and novice director

Sr. Sheila Geraghty
Sr. Sheila Geraghty

Sister Sheila Geraghty (formerly Sister Mary Josetta) entered the community of Mercy from St. John the Evangelist on Humboldt Street in Rochester on Sept. 8, 1953. She began teaching at St. Michael School in Newark and later taught at St. Joseph School (Penfield), St. Louis School (Pittsford), St. Thomas the Apostle School (Irondequoit), St. John of Rochester (Fairport) and St. Vincent de Paul (Corning).

While enjoying her education ministries, she began to realize that her heart was being called to help those experiencing poverty. She went on to join Tioga County Rural Ministry in Owego, located in the poorest county in the Diocese of Rochester. From 1985 until 1991, she was called to be the novice director for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester. Later, she became parish visitor for Our Lady of Lourdes in Brighton. “I believe each of these ministries led me to the next one, each very special in its time,” she said.

Now retired, Sister Geraghty continues to visit the sick and shut-ins, and is profoundly grateful for her many years as a Sister of Mercy — living in community, praying together, and sharing in the ministries of her Mercy Institute.

Ring motto: Illi soli servio (Him alone do I serve)

Sister Hamm: Felt God’s calling as a middle-school student

Sr. Barbara Hamm
Sr. Barbara Hamm

A native New Yorker, Sister Barbara Hamm was born and raised in Rochester. She attended St. John the Evangelist School and Our Lady of Mercy High School, founded in 1928 by the Sisters of Mercy. Sister Hamm said that she felt the gentle call of God to serve as a Sister of Mercy while in the seventh grade. It was there that she observed the kindness and the joy in the sisters, as they genuinely loved the work they were doing.

Sister Hamm entered the community on Sept. 8, 1953, and made her perpetual profession in 1959. For the next 56 years, she taught or worked in administration in Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Rochester. In 1997 she moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., to care for her father. While there, she taught classes, served as a school secretary, and worked in administration in Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School until it closed in 2012. After the closing of Holy Name, Sister Hamm volunteered for a year as a teacher’s aide at St. Juliana School in West Palm Beach.

Today, she continues to volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach and St. Patrick Parish in Palm Beach Gardens. “My heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to minister with so many wonderful people, which has been a blessing and inspiration to me,” she said. “I am thankful for God’s faithful love, my call to Mercy life, my faith and my loving family and friends, and to all those who have nurtured and mentored me along the way.”

Ring motto: Ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary)

Sister Hickey: 70 years spent in education

Sr. Mary Walter Hickey
Sr. Mary Walter Hickey

Sister Mary Walter Hickey responded to God’s call on Sept. 8, 1953, when she joined the Sisters of Mercy. She desired to use her gifts in the service of others through her vowed life of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the service of the poor, the sick and the ignorant. Her 70 years of service have been spent in education. She taught second grade at St. James School in Irondequoit and third, fourth and seventh grade at St. Louis in Pittsford. In secondary education, she taught math, history, economics and theology at her alma mater, Our Lady of Mercy High School.

In 1972, the same month as Hurricane Agnes, she traveled to Elmira to begin her service as an administrator — serving as assistant principal, principal, president and currently president emerita of Notre Dame High School. Her years in Elmira have been filled with challenges and opportunities accompanied by the support of the Sisters of Mercy, a dedicated faculty, a hard-working staff, supportive parents, generous benefactors and a wonderful student body. She oversaw two major capital campaigns — A Legacy of Values and A Legacy of Caring, resulting in a new science wing, new locker rooms, renovated athletic fields and new lighting and rigging in the auditorium. Sister Hickey is grateful for the many who have supported her ministry in Elmira.

During her 70 years as a Sister of Mercy she has strived to live her motto, “Ut in omnibus glorificator Deus” — that in all things God may be glorified.

Ring motto: Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus (That in all things God may be glorified)

Sister Ward: Has enjoyed her many roles in education

Sr. Kathleen Ward
Sr. Kathleen Ward

Sister Kathleen Ward first met, and was inspired by, the Sisters of Mercy while attending St. Charles Borromeo School in Greece; the sisters who taught there were very influential in her decision to become a Sister of Mercy, especially Sisters Margaret Mungovan, Dismas Foster and DePaul Dugan, as well as Timothy Weider.

Sister Ward entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, then began her teaching career at St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit, later serving as well at Holy Cross in Rochester and St. Salome in Irondequoit. She served as principal at St. Cecilia School in Irondequoit, and as librarian and counselor at St. Louis in Pittsford. She was instrumental in the founding of Siena Academy, and served there as vice principal and counselor. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English from Nazareth College; a master’s in education, with a major in counseling, from the University of Dayton; and an A.A.S. in administration.

“It has been a joy for me to serve in many roles in education for 50-plus years,” she said. “It was a blessing for me to serve as a school counselor, and I was one of the first to do so.” Sister Ward finds great meaning in the words of Catherine McAuley: “How quietly the great God does all his mighty works.”

When asked what advice she might have for someone discerning a call to religious life, Sister Ward answered: “I never realized how fruitful the works of Mercy could be — you could be part of that fruitfulness.”

Ring motto: One Heart and One Mind in Christ

Sister Weaver: Grateful for being able to serve in education ministry

Sr. Edwardine Weaver
Sr. Edwardine Weaver

Sister M. Edwardine Weaver is grateful for the gifts of life and ministry as a Sister of Mercy.

Sister Weaver entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953. She taught at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; and St. Rita, Webster, prior to serving as principal of St. James in Irondequoit. This was followed by service in the diocesan schools office, first as assistant and then as superintendent of diocesan Catholic schools. She later joined the University of Rochester, where, for 18 years she developed and directed the Catholic School Leadership Program at the Warner School of Graduate Education. This program provided training for future Catholic-school administrators in the dioceses of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, and also trained priests from various African nations on implementing education initiatives in their home countries. Upon retirement from the U of R, Sister Weaver became co-director of the then newly established Mercy Bridges, an adult literacy ministry of the Sisters of Mercy.

Sister Weaver has served as a supervisor of student teachers at Nazareth College, and has been an education consultant for the MacMillan/McGraw Hill publishing company. She also has served as past vice president of the New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents and as a member of the state Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Council for Nonpublic Schools. She has been a member of several civic boards and community committees, and has been the recipient of several service awards. She currently serves as a board member for Notre Dame High School in Elmira.

“I am grateful for those who have touched my life in so many ways during the happy, challenging and fulfilling years lived in the community of Mercy and in service to the ministry of education,” she said.

Ring motto: Deus Meus et Omnia (My God and my all)

60 Years

Sister Semesky: Ministered in food service, home economics education

Sr. Arlene Semesky
Sr. Arlene Semesky

Sister Arlene Semesky is a native of Elmira. She and her twin sister, Marlene, attended St. Casimir, along with their parents, Genevieve and John Semesky, and younger brother, Ted.

Graduating from Notre Dame High School in Elmira in 1961, Sister Arlene entered the Sisters of Mercy two years later on Sept. 8, 1963. She holds degrees in food service administration, food science and home economics education. Her religious life is clearly reflected in this educational background — she loves to cook and she loves to sew! At many times, cooking was a family affair, baking bread each year with her brother.

Sister Semesky ministered at the motherhouse in Rochester, working in the kitchen there soon after she entered the congregation. She spent much of her ministry in her hometown of Elmira, at Notre Dame High School, where she was a teacher and also worked in the school lunch program for nearly 30 years. She rounded out her time in Elmira at Elcor Health Services and Meals on Wheels. In recent years, since moving to Rochester, she has turned her attention to sewing, making many popular items for Kate’s Gift Shop at the motherhouse. Sister Semesky’s ring motto, “By the grace of God, I am what I am,” describes very well each of the 60 years she has lived in her religious life to the fullest.

Ring motto: By the grace of God, I am what I am

50 Years

Sister Kearney: Served in education and now in spirituality ministry

Sr. Jody Kearney
Sr. Jody Kearney

Sister Johanna (Jody) Kearney was first inspired to become a Sister of Mercy by Sister Jackie Reichart, her school principal, eighth-grade teacher and the then-choir director at St. Joseph in Penfield. She also was inspired by the “down-to-earth” nature of the other sisters on the staff and their love for life. During her novitiate, she noted how other sisters were using their free time to also be about the works of Mercy.

She entered the congregation on Sept. 6, 1973, and has served in education ministries at St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; Annunciation, Rochester; and St. Joseph. She has served in spirituality ministry at the Mercy Prayer Center for the past 34 years. Sister Kearney said that her life as a Sister of Mercy has brought her “a deeper prayer life, the gift of community and friendship and the call to act justly.” At the Mercy Prayer Center, she has felt blessed by the spiritual life of the laity, the rich ecumenical flavor of the work and the sense of community that developed among the staff.

She remains inspired by the words of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, that, “We should be as shining lamps, giving light to all around us.” The Scripture verse that sustains her is “One thing I ask the Lord, this alone I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” (Ps. 27:4) To anyone interested in religious life, Sister Kearney cites “the importance of staying true to your own values in Mercy, and to let those values lead you.”

Ring motto: His presence fills me with joy

Tags: Religious Orders
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