Still Becoming a Woman of Mercy
Sr. Judy Pat Healy, ‘60, RSM, started her journey to becoming a Woman of Mercy during her high school years. But this Sister of Mercy, who has been an educator, librarian, bookkeeper and volunteer freely admits she is still becoming a Woman of Mercy.
“I keep trying to embrace new opportunities and challenges with joy and compassion.”
To say that Sr. Judy Pat has been active would be an understatement.
She moved to Holy Cross Parish just before eighth grade and so it was natural for her to attend the school across the street. Her parents wanted her to receive a Catholic education.
“The wonderful thing for me was my Mercy classmates were from all over the city. I was reunited with friends from Holy Name and Cathedral and made new friends who introduced to me to new cultures and customs. Among my closest friends to this day are girls from my class, all of whom came from different Omaha parishes.”
Two of her favorite subjects at Mercy were History and Geometry. With a background in ballet, she often had roles in theatre that involved dancing. Sr. Judy Pat participated in dancing of a different sort when she spent her lunch hours with classmates listening and dancing to the juke box.
During her Mercy days, she belonged to Safe Teens, a club for Mercy girls who had a driver’s license. Sr. Judy Pat was the only one among her close friends that could drive. In fact, one Mercy Day they made a side trip to Nebraska City along with the other festivities of the day. It was finally six years after graduating from high school that her dad laughingly asked how she put 200 miles on the car on that day.
“Mercy Day Mass, the play, lunch, the evening dance and our side trip to Nebraska City helped our class strengthen our bonds with one another.”
She graduated with one of the largest classes in the school’s history, 148 students. The graduation was at Holy Cross Church and students processed from Mercy to Holy Cross across the street.
“We were an impressive sight wearing our academic regalia and each of us carrying a dozen log-stemmed crimson roses. Before exiting Mercy’s front door, we walked through the chapel and placed the thirteenth rose in a vase by the statue of Mary.”
In September 1960 she joined the Sisters of Mercy community at the College of St. Mary and also started taking classes. Judy Pat double majored in Sociology and Elementary Education and began a teaching career of 23 years that spanned educating first to fifth graders in North Dakota and Colorado. She has also worked in medical records, and as a high school bookkeeper, and volunteered at several libraries. Other activities have included positions on parish council committees, as well as on Sisters Councils and National Assemblies of Sisters at diocesan, state and regional levels. She also enjoyed dance and art lessons, camping, reading, knitting and lace making.
“One of the biggest weekends and my most fun seasonal challenge was teaching downhill skiing to the disabled at Winter Park, Colorado for 12 years.”
For the past 28 years Sr. Judy Pat has been on the library staff at the College of St. Mary. She earned her Master of Library Science at Emporia State University, Kansas, which involved putting 36,000 miles on her car over the course of six years.
A member of the Mercy Alumnae Council for 10 years, she is an active participant in the Catherine McAuley Prayer Circle, which is a once-a-month gathering to pray the rosary in Mercy’s chapel. This Mercy graduate is also part of the Sisters of Mercy Mentoring program for juniors.
“Mercy has always been a home to me, figuratively and literally. After I moved to Omaha to be part of the College of St. Mary community, I lived in the Mercy High convent for three years. My dad would often go to morning Mass at the chapel there and have breakfast with us. My mother’s vigil and funeral Mass were also held at Mercy’s chapel.”
For Sr. Judy Pat once a Mercy Girl, you are always a Mercy Girl.
“Whether you know it or not, whether it seems like it is happening or not, you are always being led by God’s Spirit as you continue evolving quietly more and more each day into a Woman of Mercy.”