Saturday, July 28, 2012

Remembering a Sister

As I reach the last few items in the collection we’ve inherited from my husband’s grandmother, Agnes Tully Stevens, I find stray pieces that don’t seem to relate in any other way than for sentimental value.

The packet that I’ve just begun transcribing seems to fit that catch-all category. A stack of papers one column’s width wide and consisting of five pages is bound together, for lack of a stapler, by a rusty straight pin. I carefully release the news clippings from their makeshift fastener and spread them out to scan.

The message is from a publication known as Parochial Monthly, a newsletter undoubtedly originating with the Chicago school associated with the Tully family’s parish. The article is undated. Based on the context, I presume it was written in late 1912.

Because of the typeset article’s length, I’ll reprint it here as I found it: one column per day. Hopefully, by the end of the series, I—very possibly with the help of others reading here—will know more about the woman whom the column sought to honor.

The column begins with gratitude for the help of many in the parish during a time of grief:
            To the societies, sodalities and people of St. Anne’s Parish, we wish to express our appreciation of their loyalty, and of the kind, loving manner in which they showed their affection for our dear Sister Mary Mercy.
                        Sincerely and gratefully,
            The Mother Superior and Sisters and the relatives of Sister Mary Mercy.
It then begins the explanation not only of Sister Mary Mercy’s history, but of earlier times at the new St. Anne’s parish—and on the south side of Chicago as well.


            It is our sad duty to chronicle the death of one of St. Anne’s oldest sisters and superioress of the Parochial School since it was opened nineteen years ago. Sister Mary Mercy came to St. Anne’s, a young sister to a young, struggling parish. The first years of the school were those of hardship on account of the prejudice which then existed in the minds of most people in regard to Catholic education. This did not cause the least discouragement to Sister Mary Mercy. She began the work to help to bring souls to God by teaching them their duties to God, their neighbors and themselves. She made the will of God the guiding star of her life, so that trials and crosses had no other effect on her than to draw her closer to God. Nineteen years have made a great change in this parish and in the school, and Sister Mary Mercy’s work has been crowned with unlooked for success. When God called her from our midst on Friday afternoon, October 18th, through her untiring zeal and patience, the parochial school was crowded to overflowing and had a standard, not only in religious but also in secular education, far superior to any other school in the district.

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