West Midwest

Mary Ellen Devereux, RSM


Entered: February 10, 1945

Current Ministry: Ministry of Prayer and Presence

Motto: Servite Dominio in Laetitia


As a child growing up in a small Iowa town, becoming a Sister never entered my mind. I had relatives in the Franciscan community but rarely saw them.

When I was ready for high school, my parents heard of a Catholic high school in Council Bluffs that I was to attend. Here I became acquainted with the Sisters of Mercy, where the sense of community and prayer attracted me. After graduation, I spent a year discerning my future. I would pray that if it were God's will, I would become a Sister. I never thought of a particular ministry. With no preparation, two weeks after profession I found myself in a classroom. Teaching and administration were to be my primary ministries for many years.

Life was not always easy, but now I only count my blessings. In the novitiate, I hadn't given thought to a life of ministry. I was quite naïve during these years, as ministry wasn't discussed much. So imagine a few days after profession getting an assignment to teach second grade at Saint Patrick School in Omaha. I didn't know what a lesson plan book was! I was teaching under another Sister's name. Thankfully all went well. For the next two years, I had an emergency certificate!

From Saint Patrick I went to Saint Bernard School in Omaha. I taught in several different grades there and loved teaching. The upper grades were my favorite. It was so rewarding helping students prepare for high school entrance tests and hoping for scholarships. During these years, I was able to get the courses I needed and graduated with a bachelor's degree in education and a master's in administration.

The next years took me to Lincoln, Nebraska; Grass Valley, California; and Des Moines, Iowa, where I served as principal.

I had a sudden change in ministry when I was asked to be a retirement director in Omaha at a large convent connected to Mercy High School. Living close to UNO, I took classes in gerontology.

After a Sabbatical in Spokane, I spent four years in Denver as a retirement director at the convent at Mercy Hospital. Eventually, with many changes there, I was able to begin my retirement years in Des Moines.

I often think about how the grace of God and support of community helped me through these years. I was allowed to touch so many lives and am grateful for the many who graced mine.


If you would like to honor Sister Mary Ellen Devereux with a gift to the Sisters of Mercy, please click here to donate securely online. An acknowledgment of your tribute will be sent to Sister Mary Ellen Devereux.

« BACK TO ALL WEST MIDWEST JUBILEES                                             VIEW THE NEXT JUBILARIAN »