Remembrances

Sister Mary Camille Kelley, Age 89

West Midwest

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sister Mary Camille grew up in Detroit, Michigan, with four brothers and became part of the first class to enter the newly completed Our Lady of Mercy High School. Her carpenter father had worked on its construction and was pleased his only daughter could attend. Years later, a Mercy High publication dubbed her “The Original Mercy Girl.”

She graduated in September 1949 and joined the community, making perpetual vows on August 16, 1955. She chose the motto “For me to live is Christ” to be engraved in her silver ring.

Michigan students in Cheboygan, Howell, Detroit, Grand Haven, Berkley, Saginaw and Muskegon came to know Sister Mary Camille not only as a classroom teacher but as one who had a personal interest in their futures. Her leadership skills became evident during those years, and she was appointed to serve as principal at her alma mater. A former faculty member recalled how Sister Mary Camille “brought renewal to the school and gave students greater freedom to be themselves.”

In 1978, Sister Mary Camille was elected to serve on the Provincial Administrative Team for the Sisters of the Detroit Province. Afterward, she sought new forms of service, including a one-year chaplaincy at Children’s Hospital, eight years as an alcohol recovery therapist and 16 years as administrator of the Western Oakland County’s senior meals service.

In 2006, deciding it was time to slow down and serve as a volunteer, she “helped out” at Mercy Education Project, the community’s business office, and the C.A.R.E.S. program for the poor in the Farmington Hills area. When she was no longer able to be physically present, she maintained an active interest in these ministries.

Memories of Sister Mary Camille include her warm and generous spirit. She once wrote that her life could be described with computer icons for her desktop in six symbols: a cross, a piece of wood, a book, a rose, a teapot and a shamrock. 

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