This year 16 Sisters of Mercy are celebrating a total of 955 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 18 at 1 p.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, Erie, the Philippines and Pittsburgh.
Sister Mary dePaul Dugan entered the community from St. John the Evangelist Parish, Rochester. She taught at St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist, Rochester; St. Louis, Pittsford; Good Shepherd, Henrietta; and St. Thomas the Apostle, St. James and St. Salome, Irondequoit. She also served as a library aide and in the office at St. Thomas the Apostle School, and parish visitor at St. Salome Parish. She spent some years as a computer coordinator at Holy Cross School in Charlotte. Sister Dugan, who is a great lover of animals, resides at Mercy Center in Brighton and spends her days serving God’s people through prayer.
Motto: Lord, I am not worthy
Sister Mary Teresita Williams entered the community from St. Andrew Parish, Rochester. She taught at St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; Holy Cross, Charlotte; St. Cecilia, Irondequoit; St. Helen, Gates; Holy Family, Auburn; St. Patrick, Owego; and St. John the Evangelist, Clyde, where she also served as principal. In 1969, she went to Hornell to work in the office at St. James Mercy Hospital for four years and returned to Irondequoit to teach again at St. Cecilia. She was resident assistant at Lourdes Hall Infirmary at the motherhouse for nine years. Sister Williams resides at Mercy Center in Brighton where she ministers to God’s people through prayer.
Motto: I am espoused to him whom the angels serve
Sister Ann Caufield (formerly Sister Mary Scholastica) entered the community from St. Monica Parish, Rochester, the second of three Caufield girls to become Sisters of Mercy. Sister Caufield had a strong desire to be a nurse and after receiving her degree became a head nurse at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell. In ensuing years she advanced to become the nursing service director and in-service director and eventually the hospital administrator. Following further education she served in Woodhull, N.Y., as a physician’s assistant for many years, serving people in the rural area who were in need of health care. She resides at Mercy Center in Brighton and is an active participant in the Mercy Music Group.
Motto: Serve the Lord in joy
Sister Therese Richardson (formerly Sister John Mary) entered the community from St. Mary Parish, Elmira. She was a teacher for 20 years, serving at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. Patrick, Owego; and St. Salome, Irondequoit, where she also served as principal, followed by leadership roles at Holy Cross, Charlotte, and St. Andrew. She was an elected member of the Leadership Team for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester and was on the staff of Melita House (now a part of Mercy Community Services) before she began a 20-year ministry at Mercy Prayer Center, where she still serves in a volunteer role.
Motto: It is the Lord
Sister Diane Marie Erskine (formerly Sister Mary Jamesetta) entered the community from Holy Rosary Parish in Rochester. She taught at St. James and St. Salome, Irondequoit; St. Rita, Webster; St. Mary, Bath; and Holy Cross, Charlotte. Sister Erskine was principal at St. Salome, Our Lady of Lourdes in Elmira and Annunciation in Rochester. She served as a teacher and guidance counselor at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton and also as director of Holy Cross Early Childhood Center. During her years in education she ministered from the preschool level to the diocesan Catholic Schools Office, where she was the district superintendent of Monroe County East and later a substitute teacher in the diocesan schools. She completed her educational career as an assessor in the Science Start Program at the University of Rochester. She currently is the local development coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy.
Motto: Accept me, O Lord
Sister Sheila Geraghty (formerly Sister Mary Josetta) entered the community from St. John the Evangelist Parish (Humboldt Street) in Rochester.
She taught at St. Michael School, Newark; St. Joseph, Penfield; St. Louis, Pittsford; St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit; St. John of Rochester, Fairport; and St. Vincent, Corning. In 1979 she served at Tioga County Rural Ministry, and in 1985 she become the community’s novice director for six years. She then began 18 years of ministry as a parish visitor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brighton. Sister Geraghty currently ministers to the senior sisters at Mercy Center.
Motto: Him only do I serve
Sister Barbara Hamm (formerly Sister Mary Vincentia) taught at St. Patrick, Owego; Holy Family, Auburn; Our Lady of Mercy, Greece; St. Cecilia, Irondequoit; and St. Louis, Pittsford. As a principal she served at St. Louis, St. John the Evangelist in Rochester and Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton. After 30 years as an administrator she moved to Florida to help care for her father and taught fourth grade at Holy Name of Jesus School in West Palm Beach. She also served four years as the school secretary and administrative assistant to the principal as well as in a volunteer role. She is currently volunteering at St. Mary Hospital in West Palm Beach and lives in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Motto: To Jesus through Mary
Sister Mary Walter Hickey entered the community from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brighton. She taught at St. James, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; and Our Lady of Mercy High School, Brighton. In 1972 she was assigned to Notre Dame High School in Elmira, first as vice principal and then principal, a ministry she held for more than 30 years. In 2008 when Notre Dame adopted the president/principal model of leadership, she became its first president, a position in which she still serves.
In the 1970s Sister Hickey was elected to serve on the General Council for the Rochester Sisters of Mercy.
Motto: That in all things God may be glorified
Sister Mary Augustine Malley entered the community from St. Augustine Parish in Rochester. She taught at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Brighton; Cardinal Mooney High School, Greece; and Notre Dame High School, Elmira. After 20 years in education she became a chaplain at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell, ministering to the sick and their families for many years until she returned to Rochester to care for her mother. She resides in Irondequoit where she volunteers her service to the lonely and those in need.
Motto: Thou hast made me for thyself
Sister Marion Rappl (formerly Sister Mary Boniface) entered the community from St. Thomas Apostle Parish, Irondequoit. She taught at St. James, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; Our Lady of Mercy High School, Brighton, where she also served as scheduler; and Cardinal Mooney High School, Greece. During her teaching ministry, she taught for one summer at St. Mary Minor Seminary in Uganda, Africa. Sister Rappl now serves an assistant in the community’s finance office.
Motto: In you Lord, I hope
Sister Kathleen Ward (formerly Sister Mary John) entered the community from St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Greece. She taught at St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Salome, Irondequoit; Holy Cross, Charlotte; and Seton Catholic, Brighton. Sister Ward also served as principal at St. Cecilia, Irondequoit; a librarian and counselor at St. Louis, Pittsford; and a vice principal and counselor at Siena Catholic Academy, Brighton. After her retirement from Seton Catholic, she began volunteering with the Mercy Bridges literacy program. She also gave time to the Heritage Room and to visiting with the infirm sisters at Mercy Center.
Motto: One heart and one mind in Christ
Sister Mary Edwardine Weaver entered the community from Holy Rosary Parish, Rochester. She taught at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. Charles Borromeo, Greece; and St. Rita, Webster. She also served as principal at St. James, Irondequoit, for seven years. In 1975 she became an assistant superintendent of schools for the diocese and then superintendent. Following her work in the diocesan schools office she became a supervisor of student teachers at Nazareth College in Pittsford and worked for the University of Rochester’s Warner Graduate School of Education as director of the Office of Professional Development and director of the Catholic School Leadership Program. She began the Mercy Bridges literacy program in 2006 and was its director for five years. Her current ministry is with the NyPPaW Education Sponsorship Council.
Motto: My God and my all
Sister Margaret Mary Wintish (formerly Sister Mary Gabriella) entered the community from Rochester’s St. Augustine Parish, the second of three sisters to become Sisters of Mercy. She taught elementary education for 24 years in the Rochester Diocese and Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Sister Wintish also served in pastoral ministries in this diocese, including as pastoral assistant, director of religious education and visitation to the homebound. She also served with the community’s mission at Santa Ana, Chile, and with the diocesan mission team in Tabasco, Mexico. She also served as an administrative secretary for Mercycare Residential Facility and in pastoral care at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell. She later became chaplain at St. Peter Hospital in Albany, St. Vincent Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., and Wesley-on-East in Rochester, and served as companion at Valley Manor in Rochester. Sister Wintish currently resides at Mercy Center in Brighton and volunteers as a parish visitor at St. Jerome in East Rochester; a tutor with the Mercy Bridges literacy program; coordinator of the prayer shawl ministry; and interacting with the infirm sisters at Mercy Center.
Motto: Love and sacrifice with Christ
Sister Arlene Semesky (formerly Sister Mary Theodore) entered the community from St. Casimir Parish, Elmira. She has spent her years as a Sister of Mercy serving those who were hungry, both as a teacher and food-service manager. She began her ministry at the motherhouse as a manager in the kitchen, where she mastered the art of bread making. From there she served at Notre Dame High School, first as manager of the cafeteria and then as a home economics and theology teacher. She continued her service to the hungry at Chemung County Meals on Wheels as a cook and site supervisor, and most recently in the Elmira City School District. During these many years she has continued to bake bread for special occasions, especially for fundraisers for the Sisters of Mercy and its ministries.
Motto: By the grace of God, I am what I am
Sister Margaret Louise Snider (formerly Sister Mary Barnabas) followed a different course than most women, entering the community from St. Anne Parish, Rochester, when she was in her 40s. As a trained secretary, Sister Snider began her ministry working in the offices of Catherine McAuley College in Rochester, Our Lady of Mercy High School, Catherine McAuley Reading Lab and the diocesan Office of Human Development. In 1980 she requested sponsorship for a new ministry in the Southern Tier where she could serve the poor of Steuben County. This new ministry fulfilled her longtime desire to reach out to others and relieve their suffering. After more than 30 years, Steuben County Rural Ministry continues to serve people in need. Sister Snider now spends her days at Mercy Center in Brighton praying for those served by the ministry, as well as for those at Good Shepherd Parish in Henrietta.
Motto: I join all creation in singing his glory
Sister Carolyn Rosica entered the community from St. Ambrose Parish in Rochester. She taught at St. Andrew in Rochester before she entered the community, followed by experience at Holy Cross in Charlotte. In 1993 she moved to Seton Catholic in Brighton, where she continues teaching today.
Motto: I know the one in whom I’ve put my trust