Sister Mary Sharon Ekler, Age 88

West Midwest

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sister Mary Sharon came to know the Sisters of Mercy at a young age. When she was just 14, her eldest sister (Sister Mary del Rey) joined the religious community, and Sister Sharon soon followed, entering the Omaha Province at the age of 17.

Sister Sharon had hoped to be a nurse; instead, she was appointed to teach. For 27 years, she taught elementary education and was a school principal in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and Colorado. In 1982, she moved into pastoral ministry, eventually serving as the director of a Colorado retreat center. 

In 1989, Sister Sharon entered the world of healthcare pastoral care chaplain at Mercy Medical Center in Durango, Colorado. Her brief job description was to “make sure the hospital stays true to its mission of providing quality healthcare and caring for the indigent.”

Soon after arriving, Sister Sharon called community leaders to discuss the old railroad/mining town’s needs. Affordable housing was a common concern. Thanks to Sister Sharon, Mercy Housing brought low-income housing to Durango, as well as a health clinic. LaPlata Integrated Healthcare continues to provide services to those who can least afford it. 

Good childcare, especially for infants and toddlers, was another primary concern. Although Mercy Hospital Durango had started a childcare center before Sister Sharon had arrived, she helped double its size.  

After ministering in Durango for nearly 15 years, Sister Sharon left for Denver in 2003 to live closer to her mother and Sister del Rey.

“Everywhere she served, Sister Sharon made lasting friendships,” said Sister Sharon Ford of Aurora, Colorado. “We will miss her!”

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