Sister Phyllis Marie McDonald was a Sister of Mercy for 75 years. Change had always been a part of her life journey from wanting to give her life to God while a student at St. Michael Grade School in Greenville, Pennsylvania, to an early romance while in high school, to an illness that redirected her life.
When she finally recovered, the desire to give her life to God returned, and she entered the Sisters of Mercy on September 27, 1947, in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Education degrees were earned at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, enabling her to teach in the Diocese of Erie elementary schools: St. Titus in Titusville, Ss. Cosmas & Damian in Punxsutawney, St. Luke and St. George in Erie, and Msgr. Geno J. Monti in Farrell, all in Pennsylvania.
She served as director of postulants and novices for her Sisters of Mercy Community beginning in 1968 during the changes that surfaced after Vatican II. She was a young, extremely kind-hearted postulant and novice director, as experienced by the writer, whom she called to this day “my postulant.”
A teaching opportunity surfaced in 1975, and Sister Phyllis Marie traveled to Fort Defiance, Arizona, to the Navajo Reservation, where she also served as Spiritual Life Minister and missionary for 15 years.
Returning to Erie, she co-directed the Grassroots Opportunities for Women (GROW) ministry. Sister Phyllis Marie eventually settled into the directorship of the Curriculum Library at her alma mater Mercyhurst University for 17 years while serving as a co-director of Mercy Associates in Erie, thus completing her cycle of rewarding vocation ministries and generous service to her beloved community.