Sisters of Mercy celebrate 75, 60 & 50 year jubilees

Sister Genevieve Birchard, RSM, 75th jubilee   

Sister Genevieve Birchard is celebrating her 75th jubilee. She was born in 1920 in Hazleton, Iowa and graduated from high school in 1938. She became a Sister of Mercy in 1941 and started teaching high school in 1943 at Immaculate Conception in Cedar Rapids.  From 1947 to 1955, she was a high school teacher at Sacred Heart in Waterloo, Immaculate Conception in Charles City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1950, she received a BS degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. In 1958, she earned a master’s in economics from Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  From 1955 to 1959, she was principal of Immaculate Conception School in Elma, Iowa. From 1959 through 1962, she served at St. Joseph in DeWitt, Iowa and Columbus High School in Waterloo, Iowa. She worked at Mount Mercy College as a business manager and assistant professor from 1962 to 1974. From 1975 through 1990, Sister Genevieve was a secretary and business manager at Catholic Education Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She retired in 2001 and enjoys praying.

Sister Marilyn Ward, RSM, 50th jubilee

Sister Marilyn Ward, RSM, celebrated her 50th jubilee on June 11. She is the daughter of Larry and Mary Ward of Kalispell, Montana. She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1967, pronounced her final vows as a Sister of Mercy on July 30, 1973 in her home parish of St. Matthew’s, Kalispell.

Sister Marilyn earned her Bachelor of Science from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids and her master’s in education administration from the University of Northern Iowa. Sister Marilyn was an elementary teacher at St. Patrick, Garryowen 1973; All Saints, Cedar Rapids 1974; St. Joseph, Marion 1976; principal of St. Patrick School, Anamosa, 1984 all in Iowa. She also taught at Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Minnesota in 1979. Sister Marilyn served as Archivist for the Sisters of Mercy 1981-2000. Presently Sister Marilyn is the director of volunteer services and archivist at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.

Sister Susan Widdel, RSM, 50th jubilee

The oldest of 12 children, Sister Susan Widdel, RSM, spent her childhood in Waterloo, Iowa. She attended Sacred Heart Grade School, where she met the Sisters of Mercy, and Columbus High School. She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1967.  She earned her BA at Mount Mercy College in 1972 and taught in the following schools:  Immaculate Conception in Cedar Rapids, St. Cecilia in Ames, St. Patrick in Garryowen, St. Nicholas in Evansdale, and Sacred Heart in Waterloo.

In 1981, she began to work in parish ministry. She earned her MA in parish ministry in 1991 from St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut. She has served in the following parishes:  St. John in Independence, Iowa, St. Thomas the Apostle in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Christ the King in Des Moines, Iowa, St. Patrick in Cedar Falls, Iowa and is currently serving at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in Ankeny, Iowa.

In 1997-1998, she was on sabbatical and studied massage therapy and was a licensed therapist for 10 years.

These three Sisters of Mercy served in the Archdiocese of Dubuque but entered the Community in Detroit. They will celebrate their jubilees on Aug. 6, 2017, at McAuley Life Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Sister Mildred Streif, 70 year jubilarian

Sister Mildred Streif, RSM, has had a ministry centered in elementary education, in teaching as well as in leadership in both Michigan and in Iowa. Helping children develop an understanding and a close relationship with God and with others was for her a delight, a privilege and at times a challenge. She served at Our Lady of LaSalette in Berkley and St. Anselm in Dearborn Heights. In Iowa she taught at St. John’s School in Independence and St. Mary’s School in Guttenberg where she was also principal. She said, “I am truly grateful for every year and every parish in which I was privileged to serve.” Sister Mildred also served on the archdiocesan staff in Dubuque from 1994 to 2004.

Sister Mary Corita Heid, 60 year jubilarian

Sister Mary Corita Heid, RSM, has a long history of ministry in health care, including nursing, healthcare administration and corporate office leadership. She served in several nursing service positions in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1963 to 1968. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a Master of Arts in Health Care Administration, in 1970, she served in Sioux City, Iowa; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Dubuque and Mason City, Iowa. She was president of the Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation in Farmington Hills from 1986 to 1993. Sister served as a fulltime trustee of the Mercy Health System from 1994 to 2015. Currently, she serves on the Mercy Health Network of Iowa Regional Board, and the Covenant Health System Board in Edmonton Alberta (Canada). She continues as a spiritual director for persons in North Iowa. On her jubilee she said, “Gratitude for the Grace of God is paramount in my life. I am blessed in many ways and by many people. What else can I say but a heartfelt, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’ ”

Sister Julia Mary Madden, 60 year jubilarian

Sister Julia Mary Madden, RSM, ministered as a nurse practitioner in various hospitals in Michigan and Iowa. She particularly treasures her time at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit from 1966 to 1982, and North Iowa Mercy Health Center in Mason City, Iowa from 1995 to 2006. She retired in 2013 and moved to McAuley Life Center, Farmington Hills, Michigan. She continues to share her nursing skills with others and often speaks of the importance of showing kindness to all God’s children.