August 3, 2012
Sister Marie Henderson has always had a gift for the arts, using oil, watercolors, and most notably, bronze, to create masterpieces that highlight individuals who have made significant contributions to society. It was while sculpting Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, that Sister Marie was able to combine her passion for working in bronze with her devotion to the Mercy charism. She has produced more than 100 statues, busts and more that celebrate the work and life of Catherine McAuley.
Mercy has played a strong role in Sister Marie’s development of her craft. She developed her talent under the tutelage of Sister Mary Ignatius Denay at Mercy High School in Detroit. From there, she received her Bachelors of Arts from Mercy College of Detroit in 1971, and her Masters of Arts from Eastern Michigan University. In 1985 she professed her vows as a Sister of Mercy.
While crafting a statue of Catherine McAuley for the lobby of a Mercy high school in a Detroit suburb where she was teaching, Sister Marie developed a great admiration for the founder. She was moved by Catherine’s compassion, respect, dignity and desire to help the poor. “I really felt like I knew her. We have lots of [letters and other writings] of Catherine McAuley, and when you read about her, you know she was both a fun-loving and very spiritual person.
Sister Marie has produced bronze art for many of the local communities of the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Congregations worldwide and Mercy-sponsored institutions and organizations. The statues watch over schools, hospitals and other organizations, with the purpose of continuing the founder’s legacy of service. “When the statues are installed, the story of Catherine goes with them. People see it and ask questions; maybe it gives them a little comfort,” Sister Marie said. “When the body is gone, your memory and your heart remain. Statues are reminders.” In June Sister Marie installed a statue at Catherine McAuley High School in New Jersey (see photos above), and most recently she crafted a life-size bronze for St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine.
For more information about Sister Marie Henderson and McAuley images, visit her website at: www.mcauleyimages.com.
A special thanks to Patti Kantor, West Midwest communicator, for her contributions to this article.