Sister Bessie Florence, a Sister of Mercy for 68 years, entered eternal life on July 31, 2021. She was born in Newport News, Virginia, of Harry Joseph McCarthy and Bessie Jewel Haley, their sixth child. She attended elementary and high school in Hampton, Virginia, and earned an Associate Degree from Sacred Heart College, Belmont, North Carolina. She graduated from Mercy School of Nursing, Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned a baccalaureate degree from Catherine Spalding College, Kentucky.
When she entered the Sisters of Mercy, she chose her motto “The charity of Christ I seek.”She chose this motto to express the desire of her life’s journey to love the Lord.
She practiced nursing in Mercy Hospital in Charlotte; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Asheville; Good Shepherd Health Agency, Haysville; the mission of St. Joseph the Worker in Elkhorn City, Kentucky; Holy Angels in Belmont and the Sisters of Mercy infirmary. She moved to Gastonia, North Carolina, where she expanded her ministry to include care of the elderly, tutoring children, providing food for families, taking deprived children on recreational and educational trips, visiting prisons and the care of ill family members.
Sister Bessie Florence was a parish associate at St. Patrick’s Church and Our Lady of Consolation in Charlotte, where she continued to serve the poor and anyone in need. She was committed to the Sisters of Mercy and always gave priority to works of mercy.
She was a woman who was fun to be around, as her many friends will testify. When she heard any cry, “I need…,” she always responded, “Here I am.”
Her favorite food remained potato chips. Her favorite activity was swimming. One description of her was, “Usually wears a smile. Heavily armed with kindness. Thoughtful and generous.”