This year the Sisters of Mercy are celebrating a total of 840 years of service. They have ministered in education, health care, pastoral work and social-service areas in the Diocese of Rochester and beyond. Sisters and associates of the Rochester community will gather on May 12 at 11 a.m. for the jubilee celebration at Mercy Center on Blossom Road in Brighton. It is impressive to realize how many hundreds of lives these sisters have touched in their service of those who are poor, sick and uneducated. Even in years of “retirement,” they continue to reach out to others through their prayer ministry and countless hours of volunteering. Each sister chooses an inspirational motto that is engraved in the silver ring that she receives at the time of her profession of perpetual vows. The sisters are part of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in the New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community, which includes Rochester, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, the Philippines and Erie, Pa.
Sister Mary Edwina Butler entered the congregation from St. Patrick Parish, Elmira. Her many years of teaching bear witness to her belief in Catholic education. She gave instrumental lessons at St. Andrew, St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street) and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Rochester and St. Salome in Irondequoit. She taught French at Brighton’s Our Lady of Mercy, Elmira Notre Dame and Greece’s Cardinal Mooney, where she also was vice principal from 1962-68. In 1955 she was one of the founding faculty members of Notre Dame High School, where she taught for 46 years. She especially enjoyed introducing high-school students to the French language and culture. As a chaperone Sister Butler traveled to and studied in Europe many times. She is currently retired.
Motto: Ut maneam in te. (I will abide with you.)
Sister Dorothy Loeb (formerly Sister Mary Claude) entered the community from St. Andrew Parish, Rochester. She found great joy in her ministry of nursing and social work. She served at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell and as school nurse for Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton. In the 1960s and 1970s she extended her nursing talents to include social and pastoral care of the underprivileged poor in Rochester’s center city areas of St. Andrew and St. Bridget parishes, the House of Mercy and Bethany House. During this time she also became active in the Catholic Worker Movement. In 1981 Sister Loeb moved to Alabama where she ministered in the rural counties of the Edmundite Southern Mission for five years. After retiring from active ministry she assisted in the archives at Mercy Center on Blossom Road in Brighton.
Motto: Not my gift, but myself.
Sister Lorraine Masucci (formerly Sister Mary Cephas) entered the congregation from St. Ambrose Parish in Rochester. Her ministries included teaching young children, adult religious education and retreat work. She taught at Annunciation Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rochester; St. Louis, Pittsford; St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit, where she also served as principal in 1978; Holy Family, Auburn; St. Ann, Hornell; and St. Mary, Corning. At St. John in Clyde, she was religious-education coordinator, and she ministered in pastoral work at St. Paul of the Cross in Honeoye Falls. In 1978 she moved to Atlanta, where she conducted retreats and taught religious education to adults for the next 18 years. Sister Masucci often enhanced her programs with music and dance. She is currently retired.
Motto: Hidden in Christ with Mary.
Sister Mary Borromeo Povero entered the congregation from St. John the Evangelist Parish (Humboldt Street) in Rochester. She ministered as a high-school foreign-language teacher at Rochester’s Aquinas Institute and Brighton’s Our Lady of Mercy High School; St. Ann, Hornell; and Holy Family, Auburn. She carried certifications in Latin, French and Italian. In 1974 she had the opportunity to teach for a year at the Pineta Sacchatti in Rome, Italy. Sister Povero enjoyed teaching and being able to pass along to her students what she had learned. Today she is retired and spends her time in prayer.
Motto: Fiat voluntas tua, Domiine. (Thy will be done, O Lord.)
Sister Patricia Switzer (formerly Sister Joseph Mary) entered the community from St. Monica Parish, Rochester. She has ministered in elementary and secondary education as well as in pastoral work. She taught at St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street), where she also served as principal; St. Michael, Newark, where she also served as principal; and St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit. She served as principal of Good Shepherd in Henrietta. She also taught English at Cardinal Mooney, Greece; King’s Prep and St. Andrew’s Seminary, Rochester; and Elmira Notre Dame High School. In 1985 Sister Switzer began pastoral work at St. Joseph Parish in Penfield, where she worked for 16 years. Whether in the classroom or in the midst of parish responsibilities, she enjoyed working with the people she encountered.
Motto: Christ reigns.
Sister Veronica Casey (formerly Sister Mary Chrysostom) entered the congregation from St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Hornell. Her ministry included teaching, pastoral work and office work. As an educator Sister Casey taught at Greece’s Cardinal Mooney High School, Brighton’s Our Lady of Mercy High School, Bryant and Stratton Business Institution in the Rochester area and Medaille College in Buffalo. She attended to the pastoral needs of the parishes of St. Mary, Bath; St. Jude, Gates; and Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier, Rochester. She also provided support staffing to the offices of Burns Personnel Inc., Catholic Family Center and the Sisters of Mercy finance office in Rochester. She saw the various aspects of her ministry as a gift, which deepened her love of God. In her retirement, she continues to volunteer as a tutor for Literacy Volunteers of America and as a bookkeeper for the Judicial Process Commission in Rochester.
Motto: Through Him, with Him, and in Him.
Sister M. Leona Didas entered the congregation from St. Ann Parish in Hornell. She taught music classes at St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street), Rochester; St. Rita, Webster; Holy Family, Auburn; Holy Family School System, Elmira; and St. Ann, Hornell. Sister Didas taught her students to enjoy classroom music and concerts. She is currently director of vocal and instrumental music for Holy Family in Elmira.
Motto: Ecce ancilla Domini. (Behold the handmaid of the Lord.)
Sister Joyce McGinn (formerly Sister Mary Thomasine) entered the congregation from St. Ambrose Parish, Rochester. As an educator and administrator she taught at St. Rita, Webster; St. Louis, Pittsford; St.Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit; Our Lady of Lourdes, Elmira; and St. Michael, Newark, where she was principal for 14 years. Sister McGinn recalls the close sense of community that existed among the teachers, parents and students while living in Newark. Her administrative experiences included treasurer for the regional community of the Rochester Sisters of Mercy, member of the leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy in New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West (NyPPaW) and motherhouse administrator in Brighton. She currently ministers as one of the local leaders for the NyPPaW community at Mercy Center in Brighton.
Motto: My God, I love thee.
Sister Mary Poole (formerly Sister Mary Duchesne) entered the congregation from Holy Family Parish, Auburn. Music has been important throughout her life, and her ministry has included educational and parish experiences. She taught music at Holy Cross, Charlotte; Our Lady of Mercy (Armstrong Road), Rochester; St. Cecilia and St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit; St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; St. Joseph, Penfield; and Our Lady of Mercy High School, Brighton. From 1974 until 2005 she served as music director for the following parishes: Holy Ghost and St. Theodore, Gates; St. Andrew and St. Monica, Rochester; and St. Cecilia, St. Margaret Mary and St. Salome, Irondequoit. She was organist for St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street), Rochester, and Our Lady of Lourdes, Brighton. She also taught piano lessons at Hochstein and Eastman School of Music in Rochester.
Motto: Deus est meus virtus. (God is my strength.)
Sister Mary Elise Quigley entered the congregation from Holy Family Parish, Auburn. Her ministries of teaching and pastoral care gave her the opportunity of working with people of all ages. Sister Quigley taught at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; St. Joseph, Penfield; St. Rita, Webster; St. Michael, Newark; and St. Patrick, Owego. From 1983 to the present she has served on the parish staff at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception Church, for 15 years in pastoral care, followed by 13 years as parish receptionist and secretary. In her retirement she continues to volunteer in parish life such as leading the choir for funerals.
Motto: Fiat. (Be it done.)
Sister Mary Lucetta Sercu entered the congregation from St. Ambrose Parish in Rochester. Her ministry throughout the years has been primarily in the field of education, teaching children in traditional classroom settings for 37 years and then as a home-hospital instructor for the last 19 years. Sister Sercu taught elementary school at Holy Cross, Charlotte; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rochester; St. Cecilia, Irondequoit; St. John the Evangelist, Clyde; St. Mary, Bath; and St. Michael, Newark. In 1992 she ministered for five years at Tender Loving Care Agency and the Rochester City School District. Currently she continues her ministry with city school district students by teaching them in their homes.
Motto: Him only do I serve.
Sister Nancy O’Brien (formerly Sister Mary Martina) entered the congregation from Holy Cross Parish, Charlotte. Her ministry has been primarily in the fields of social ministry and food service. Sister O’Brien managed the food service department at. St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell and Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton, and served as a dietitian at Park Ridge Hospital in Rochester. In 1982 she became codirector of Tioga County Rural Ministry, caring for people who struggle with situations and working toward a more permanent solution. She ministered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Rochester and Park Ridge Chemical Dependency Department in Canandaigua. She founded Catholic Charities of Livingston County’s Rural Outreach Program in 1992 and remained its director for the following 16 years. Sister O’Brien is currently a caregiver at Home Instead Senior Care in Rochester.
Motto: Joyfully I will serve the Lord.