sister margaret catherine merrell

January 16, 1917 - September 29, 2013

A lovely, gentle lady with a friendly smile

Margaret Catherine Merrell was the first child of William and Alice (O’Brien) Merrell. She was born on January 16, 1917, in St. Louis. Mary Alice and then William eventually completed what Margaret described as a happy and loving family. The children grew up in St. Leo parish and attended school there.

Margaret enjoyed the Sisters of St. Joseph who were her teachers, and on September 15, 1935, she entered the community. She received the habit on March 19, 1936, and was given the name Sister Mary William.

Her elementary school teaching career began at St. Columbkille Grade School in St. Louis in 1938. That was followed by St. Peter in Marquette, Michigan; St. Gregory in St. Ann, Mo.; and at St. Leo in St. Louis. She then taught at American Martyrs in Kingsford, Mich., where she was both teacher and principal. S. Mary William returned  to St. Louis in 1957 to St. Louis Cathedral School.

In 1959, S. Mary William began 25 years of teaching in secondary education. Her first assignment was at Valle High in Ste. Genevieve as a Latin and English teacher. One of the sisters who lived with her there described her as a very good, hard-working English teacher. She also said that sister enjoyed literature, the vocation of teaching and her students.

Her next ministry was at St. Anthony High School in St. Louis where she taught English and religion from 1968 until 1984.

In 1984, S. Margaret began a two-year family leave of absence to help her sister Mary Alice with the care of their mother who was very ill. In 1986, she returned to elementary education at Our Lady of the Presentation where she ministered as both teacher and clerical worker.

In 1993, S. Margaret lived at St. Lucy Convent (the former St. Lucy rectory) and worked at Corpus Christi District School in St. Louis as resource room coordinator and volunteer. During this time she also helped with the Corpus Christi parish RCIA group, which conveniently met in the basement of St. Lucy Convent. A sister who was at St. Lucy’s then mentioned an example of S. Margaret’s generosity. When sister was responsible for supper but couldn’t get home from school early enough to get it ready so that the evening meal would be on time, she would arrive home to find that S. Margaret had set the table, made a salad, and gotten the meal started for her.

S. Margaret was close to her family and to her dear sister, Mary Alice, in particular. For many years S. Margaret and Mary Alice, who was a St. Joseph Guild member, were supporters of the Guild’s quilt Bingo. They enjoyed each other’s company and spent much time together. (“Two peas in a pod” someone affectionately recalled.)

S. Margaret was described as a pleasant person with a friendly smile, a good sense of humor, and a dose of practicality. Always a good listener, S. Margaret enjoyed hearing stories about what others were interested in and about their families. Another person said, “I always had a special sense of peace and good feeling when I saw her and she smiled. She was a lovely gentle person.”

S. Margaret retired at St. Luke Convent in Richmond Heights in 1999. In 2002 she came to Nazareth Living Center where she ministered in prayer and witness. After 78 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, God called her home.

S. Helen Oates

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