Parishioners, alumni, students and friends jammed their way into the pews of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Berlin Friday night, June 12, to celebrate the end of an era.
The remaining Sisters of Mercy from Trim, Ireland, bade a tearful farewell to the parish after 53 years of service. Sister Theresa Hynes, Sister Carmel Minnock, Sister Agnes Heffernan and Sister Carmel Buckley will return to Ireland to enjoy a slower pace and reconnect with family and friends.
In the early 1950s the Catholic families in Berlin began their quest to build a school for their children. They worked in earnest raising money to begin building the school and searched for staff to run it. In 1956 the Sisters of Mercy opened their arms and the doors of the new school to students from the area.
The sisters of OLMC must have felt the same pioneering spirit of their foundress Catherine McAuley as they embarked on a 53-year journey to America. In 1956 they left their homes and families to settle in Berlin. They reached out to the neighborhood through educating the children, serving the poor, visiting the sick, and ministering to the homebound.
The Sisters will take back to Ireland many joyful memories of a community rooted in faith. Sister Theresa laughs and reminisces over her first graders’ confessions and years of music ministry.
While serving as principal, Sister Agnes babysat a student’s doll each day while the student attended class. She was paid a penny a day for her service.
Sister Carmel Minnock recalls the joy in taking her mathematics students to compete at Rowan College “Math Counts” competition. Sister Carmel Buckley holds the building of the new church and convent close to her heart.
Many students found their way back to Berlin to bid the Sisters a fond farewell.