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Feature Articles

Continuing to Serve: S. Mary Ellen Murphy
By Katie Drinkuth, Communications summer intern

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Sister of Charity Mary Ellen Murphy leads an art session with Sisters living in Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility.

“It is who I am, and it influences every part of my life,” Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Mary Ellen Murphy says of her volunteer ministries. Before retiring in 2012, at the age 70, Sister spent her active ministry years in a variety of positions, and her volunteer ministries are no different. They span in so many different directions that S. Mary Ellen says, “I always say I do whatever appears on my doorstep; I never know what I’m going to do when I get up in the morning.”

S. Mary Ellen served as an elementary teacher for just three years before she began ministering in religious education. She then lived in Africa as a missionary for three years. Coming back to the United States, Sister ministered in Walnut Hills (Cincinnati, Ohio) at an outreach program taking care of the poor and helping them get back on their feet. She also worked with the Sisters of Mercy caring for low-income elders. S. Mary Ellen transitioned into a leadership role for her Community in 1987, serving as councilor for eight years, and then as the Community’s president for an additional eight years. Before retiring, S. Mary Ellen worked full time in spiritual direction.

Those past ministries indirectly prepared her for her current volunteer activities, she says, because she has gotten to know all of the Sisters of Charity throughout the years and no one is hesitant to ask her to do things, which she takes in stride. She says, “There’s a certain satisfaction when you are able to bring joy or comfort to someone else.”

Currently, S. Mary Ellen wears many hats. She continues to provide spiritual direction to clients she had previously guided and also organizes directed retreats. A couple of times a month, Sister leads art sessions where she teaches Sisters living in Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility how to paint with watercolors, a talent she discovered she had a few years ago. S. Mary Ellen also runs errands for many Sisters, whether that be taking them to the doctor’s office, to the airport, or helping them with computer issues. She says, “It brings me joy to do these things for others.”

Whether it be doing a good deed for someone or just giving them a simple smile or acknowledgment, S. Mary Ellen lives out the Sisters of Charity mission to love and care for everyone. Volunteering is a way of showing her gratitude to God for giving her the gifts to do all that she does, each and every day.