Sister Sarah Marie (Sally) was a graduate of Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati and joined the Sisters of Mercy in September of 1958.
Early on, Sister Sally taught elementary school and high school biology. In 1973, she earned an MA from Duquesne University in religion and personality. She followed that with a number of years in formation work, then five years as executive director of the National Sisters’ Vocation Conference. After those years in Chicago, she returned to Cincinnati to serve as director of the Province Life Development Office. In 1995, Sally graduated from Loyola Chicago with an MSOD in organizational development.
Sister Sally was very involved in developing and serving as the first director of Mercy Connections, an organization for the underprivileged in the Walnut Hills area of Cincinnati. This ministry had been a dream of many of the sisters in the Cincinnati area. In 2008, Mercy Connections merged with two other Mercy sponsored organizations in the Walnut Hills area becoming Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, and she was the assistant director there until 2013.
Sister Sally was a true “2” on the Enneagram: she cared about and for everyone, was always helping someone, at times even before the person knew that help was necessary. Her planner was often double- or triple-booked.
A long-time member of the choir of St. Francis de Sales church and part of the choir for every Mercy celebration, Sister Sally loved music and singing. Her strong alto could often be heard in the chapel at McAuley Convent even in the last few weeks of her life. She also enjoyed baking, especially at Christmas time. She was a card player and met with her club monthly. Occasionally, she would accompany her good friend Sister Mary Jo McGowan to an afternoon at one of the casinos. Sister Sally was an artist, and you could recognize her work—welcome signs, notes covered with creative writing and drawings.
Over the years, Sister Sally became more and more committed to social justice and the Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns. This was obvious from her work in establishing Mercy Connections. She relied on her organizational skills to start book clubs and discussion groups about various issues. She worked with the AMOS project and was involved in Pachamama. She gave Awakening the Dreamer workshops. Her greatest concern was about the planet and what the Sisters of Mercy could do as a Community and as individuals to preserve the Earth. She continued her justice and peace ministry to the end of her life. One of her last wishes was that she have a natural burial and this was able to happen.
A number of people were asked to express briefly the way they felt about Sister Sally. Some of the responses were: courageous; outrageously funny, even when she didn’t mean to be; a grant writer par excellence for many groups; a sister to many; a woman of integrity; consummately creative; a stalwart in our Community yet very unassuming about it; suffered physical limitations for years—seldom complaining; steeped in prayer; a love of justice; a woman always on the go, now no longer held back by physical limitations so she can go anywhere; a great choir singer; the holiest person I ever met; full of life; oh, how we were lifted on her wing and led by her light.