Nine Sisters of Mercy celebrating jubilees in 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS — Nine Sisters of Mercy who entered the Sisters of Mercy Community in Cedar Rapids are cele­brating jubilees this year. Seven of these Sisters are having celebrations in Cedar Rapids and the public is invited.

The celebrations will take place Sunday, June 9, from 2:30-4 p.m. The locations are:

Sister Mary Corkery – Sacred Heart Convent Activity Room

Sister Emily Devine – Sacred Heart Convent Dining Room

Sister Marge Friedhoff – Mount Mercy University, University Center Dining Room

Sister Delores Hannon – Mount Mercy University, Campus Ministry

Sister Susan O’Connor – Mount Mercy University, University Center Commons

Sister Phyllis Ann Ries – Mount Mercy University, Busse Library Atrium

Sister Joan Margret Schwager – Mount Mercy University, Busse Library Entrance

Sisters Mary Kurt and Loretta Thul will celebrate privately at a later date.

75 Years

Born in Sumner, Iowa, Sister Mary Corkery will be celebrating her 75th jubilee as a Sister of Mercy.

Sister Mary received a degree in education from St. John’s University in Cleveland, Ohio, and went on to minister as an educator for 45 years, primarily in Iowa.  The schools in Iowa at which she taught include St. John’s, Waterloo; St. Patrick, Fairfax; All Saints in Cedar Rapids; St. Patrick, Anamosa; St. Benedict, Decorah and Sacred Heart, Waterloo. She also served as principal at Sacred Heart, Oelwein, as well as at St. Matthew’s School in Kalispell, Montana, as principal and teacher.

In 1990, Sister Mary retired to Cedar Rapids and participated in various volunteer ministries. At Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Sister Mary served for several years as eucharistic minister. She also participated in the ministry of companionship, where she tended to the needs of a Sister of Mercy living at Hallmar and served as a mentor for individuals joining the Mercy Associate program. Currently, she assists the West Midwest Community development office by writing birthday cards to donors and at Sacred Heart Life Center, she is a liturgist and receptionist.

Sister Mary said, “Through ministry, I have seen the grace of God come alive in people enabling them to be a source of goodness and mercy at work in the world.”

70 Years

Sister Mary Kurt, a 70-year jubilarian, has spent more than 50 years in the classroom as a teacher, all in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

She taught at these schools: St. John School, Waterloo (1953-55, 1959-64, 1969-74); Immaculate Conception, Elma (1955-59); St. Joseph School, Marion (1964-69, 1981-82); Sacred Heart, Oelwein (1974-81, 1982-04).

In 2004, Sister Mary stopped teaching but couldn’t stay out of the classroom. Her love for children inspired her to continue serving as a volunteer. From 2004-08 she served at Sacred Heart School in Oelwein. When she moved to Sacred Heart Life Center in Cedar Rapids in 2008, she began volunteering at St. Matthew School where she served until 2012.

“I am filled with gratitude for the gift of being a member of the Cedar Rapids Community as a Sister of Mercy,” said Sister Mary.

60 Years

On Sept. 8, 1958, Sister Emily Devine, (former religious name, Sister Mary Noreen), entered the Sisters of Mercy in Marion, Iowa.

Sister Emily began her ministry serving on the staff at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids (1962-1973). She also served at Kalispell General Hospital, Kalispell, Montana (1973-75) and Methodist Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1975-76). She began pastoral work at St. Mary Hospital in Minneapolis (1976-78) and then served at Holy Trinity Parish, South St. Paul, Minnesota (1979-82); St. Cecilia Parish, Ames, Iowa (1982-84); Clinical Certification, Allentown, Pennsylvania (1985-86); and Mercy Hospital, Iowa City (1986-94). She became the director of Pastoral Services at Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott, Kansas (1994-97) and then went on to serve as chaplain at Mercy Medical Center, Mason City, Iowa (1997-2009).

In 2009, Sister Emily began ministering as a volunteer and currently lives at Sacred Heart Life Center in Cedar Rapids.  Sister Emily said, “God has blessed me in many ways for which I am very grateful and thankful to all I met who supported me on my journey.”

Sister Emily has a bachelor’s degree in human resources and has certificates in chaplaincy, spiritual direction and reflexology.

Sister Loretta Thul, RSM, ministered as a teacher in the Archdiocese of Dubuque for over 15 years. She served at St. Joseph, Marion, (1961-62); St. Matthew, Cedar Rapids (1962-63); Sacred Heart, Waterloo (1963-64); Immacu­late Conception, Cedar Rapids (1964-68); St. Patrick, Garryowen (1968-70) and St. Benedict, Decorah (1970-72), St. John’s, Waterloo (1972-76), and St. Benedict, Decorah (1976-1978).

From 1978-86, Sister Loretta minister­ed in various roles at Sacred Heart Convent. She moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and was involved in pastoral care at Mercy Hospital (1988-03).

Sister Loretta likes to share a favorite quote by Catherine McAuley, “We have one solid comfort amidst this little tripping about, our hearts can always be in the same place, centered in God, for whom alone we go forward or stay back.”

Sister Loretta has a bachelor’s degree from Mount ­Mercy College (now University).

50 Years

Sister Margaret Mary (Marge) Friedhoff is happy to celebrate her 50th jubilee as a Sister of Mercy. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a sister and a nurse. She entered the Sisters of Mercy Community on Sept. 8, 1969, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and started her studies in nursing that same week.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mount Mercy College (now University) in 1974, Sister Marge cared for patients at Mercy Hospital, Cedar Rapids (1975-75, 1977-84) and Mercy Hospital, Oelwein, Iowa (1975-77) before earning her master’s degree in nursing from Marquette University in 1986. Upon receiving her master’s, she went back to Mount Mercy as a nursing instructor (1987-89).

Sister Marge returned to Milwaukee in 1989 and served at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a nursing instructor/staff nurse (1989-94). Sister Marge earned her nurse practitioner certificate in 1994 and began working at Medical College of Wisconsin as a pediatric nurse practitioner in an outpatient specialty clinic. She created the first CARE (Constipation and Reflux Evaluation) clinic, the first of its kind for treating infants and children. This clinic is now a significant part of the Colorectal Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Sister Marge is currently engaged in efforts to support the newest Mercy mission, Mercy Focus on Haiti, in Gros Morne, Haiti. She has participated in medical missions there for the last two years and hopes to return many more times.

“I always wanted to be a nurse and always wanted to be a sister,” Sister Marge said. “I’m completely satisfied being both.”

Sister Delores Hannon, a 50-year jubilarian, entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids; Iowa, on Sept. 8, 1969, knowing that she would want to minister in education. A math aficionado, Sister Delores spent the first six years of her ministry teaching at schools in Iowa: Regis High School (1972-74) in Cedar Rapids; St. John School (1974-76) in Waterloo and All Saints School (1976-78) in Cedar Rapids.  A move to Kalispell, Montana, began her ministry as a principal at St. Matthew School (1978-81). Then she was principal in Edina, Minnesota, at Our Lady of Grace School (1981-83), Sacred Heart School (1983-88) in Oelwein, Iowa, and St. Joseph School (1988-95) in Marion, Iowa.

Sister Delores spent the next eight years (1995-03) as vice-president of the leadership team of the former Cedar Rapids Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy.

In 2003, she was able to return to serve students as president of St. Edmond Catholic Schools (2003-09) in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She currently serves the nearly 400 students as president of Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I have enjoyed all of these opportunities with their joys and challenges. One of the greatest accomplishments is each year at graduation. It is a reminder of why I do what I do — support students in being their best selves,” she said.

Sister Delores has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy College (now University) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a master’s from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

An Iowa native, Sister Susan O’Connor has ministered in Iowa throughout her 50 years as a Sister of Mercy. She began in social work at Sacred Heart Parish in Oelwein (1972-76) and then at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids (1976-91). In 1987, she became the director of counseling services at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids and also served part-time on the community leadership team.

Sister Susan served in full-time leadership for the Sisters of Mercy Cedar Rapids Regional Community. First as vice-president (1991-95) and then as the president (1995-03).

After her time in leadership for the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Susan became the vice-president for mission integration at Mercy Medical Center (formerly Mercy Hospital), a position she still holds. In this role, she serves on the administrative team and works throughout the Mercy system to assure that Mercy’s mission and the ideals of the Sisters of Mercy are at the heart of everything that is done.

Sister Susan has a bachelor’s in social work from Mount Mercy College (now University) in ­Cedar Rapids, a master’s in social work from St. Louis University and a master’s in health care mission from Aquinas Institute of Theology also in St. Louis.

Sister Phyllis Ann Ries has served the people in Iowa and Minnesota in a variety of ways throughout her 50 years as a Sister of Mercy.

She began her ministry as a primary teacher upon completing a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy College (now University) in Cedar Rapids. She taught at St. Matthew and at All Saints in Cedar Rapids; St. Joseph in Marion; St. Cecilia in Ames and St. Benedict in Decorah.

In 1994, Sister Phyllis Ann began working as a staff member in the wellness ministry at Wholistic Growth Resources, Little Falls, Minnesota, which later became known as The Spiritual Center. When this center closed in 2003, she moved to Waterloo, Iowa, to minister at The House of Mercy for five years.

During this same time, Sister Phyllis Ann also ministered as a baker at American Martyrs Retreat House in Cedar Falls, Iowa. “I get to do what I love,” said Sister Phyllis Ann about her work as a baker. Since 2012, she has worked independently as a baker in Cedar Rapids, where her items are sold at the Hiawatha Farmers Market. She also ministers as a childcare provider and a volunteer.

Sister Joan Margret Schwager entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in September 1969. She has spent most of her years of ministry in the classroom. In Iowa she taught at St. Matthew, Cedar Rapids (1972-73); St. Joseph, DeWitt (1973-76, 1981-86); All Saints, Cedar Rapids (1976-80) and Sacred Heart, Waterloo (1980-81). In 1986, she moved to Kalispell, Montana, and taught at St. Matthew (1986-02).

From 2002-08, Sister Joan Margret was vocation minister for the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids.

Since 2009, Sister Joan Margret has been teaching at Joplin Catholic Schools in Missouri.

“As a Sister of Mercy, I have been blessed to be able to teach so many students at all levels of education, including adults. My ministry has taken me to new places and new friends. I treasure my Mercy call and try to share Mercy values wherever I am, whether in the classroom or speaking to groups,” said Sister Joan Margret.

Sister Joan Margret has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy College (now University) in Spanish and a master’s degree from University of Dayton in Theology.

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