Age 99

Sister Mary Matthew Baltus was a Sister of Mercy for 78 years. In her youth, she gazed in wonder at the nighttime stars in Erie, Pennsylvania, and learn to fly a plane into the heavens. It was her spirit to reach beyond the conventional. She earned an engineering degree at Cornell, University in Ithaca, New York, to oversee changes in military aircraft built during World War II. In 1944 something else took flight in her life since her college days at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, where the Sisters of Mercy taught and befriended her; she entered the Sisters of Mercy in Titusville, Pennsylvania, but never stopped looking skyward. An avid student, Sister Matthew received the National Science Foundation grants to study physics, astrophysics, organic chemistry, chemistry, radioscopes, planetarium education, radio astronomy, and astronomy at prestigious universities throughout the U.S. She was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, where she studied Egyptian history and monuments. She undertook astronomical research at numerous prestigious observatories throughout the U.S. Sister Matthew went on to be a math and astronomy professor for 57 years at Mercyhurst University and designed the observatory, which was named The Baltus Observatory in her honor in 2018. Always fascinated with Earth and Creation, she took her vast knowledge of nature into the classroom and received the university’s first-ever “Outstanding Teacher Award.” She blended her passion for science with her faith and taught it to thousands of fortunate students to carry the torch while she ventures into the realms beyond.