Three Sisters of Mercy with ties to Mercy High School are celebrating their jubilees this year.
Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM, has been involved with Mercy efforts for justice since the 1970s. She went to Nicaragua in the 1980s on a “witness for peace” delegation, an experience which changed her focus and resulted in decisions to learn Spanish and become involved in immigration issues. She has participated in several delegations to Central America, and spent nearly 20 years living at the US/MX border (1991-2008) where she organized Border Awareness experiences and helped to found a learning center for immigrant women.
Having traveled to Honduras several times, Sister Kathleen is committed to raising awareness about “root causes” of people fleeing to the United States. She has offered spiritual assistance to detained immigrants in Federal Detention Centers, Family Detention Centers and county jails. “Through ministry, I am learning that everything is connected,” she says. “My view of life and my spirituality have been changed by ministering with so many who suffer discrimination and the effects of economic inequality and US policies and business practices.”
Sister Kathleen began her ministry in education, spending four years teaching at St. Joseph in Williston, South Dakota (1964-68) and four years at Mercy High School, Omaha, Nebraska (1968-72). She was the dean of women and director of the PACE program at Central Catholic High School in Denver, Colorado (1973-80). She then served as parish adult education minister at St. Joseph Parish, Devils Lake, North Dakota (1980-82).
Her ministries include serving the Sisters of Mercy Community on the Provincial Leadership Team (1982-86) and as Assistant Provincial (1986-90).
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Nebraska; a Master’s degree in Religious Education from Seattle University and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
Sister Delores Hannon. RSM, entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on September 8, 1969, knowing that she would want to minister in education. A math aficionado, Sister Delores spent the first six years of her ministry teaching at schools in Iowa: Regis High School (1972-74) in Cedar Rapids, St. John School (1974-76) in Waterloo, and All Saints School (1976-78) in Cedar Rapids. A move to Kalispell, Montana, began her ministry as a principal at St. Matthew School (1978-81). Then she was principal in Edina, Minnesota, at Our Lady of Grace School (1981-83), Sacred Heart School (1983-88) in Oelwein, Iowa, and St. Joseph School (1988-95) in Marion, Iowa.
Sister Delores spent the next eight years (1995-03) as vice-president of the leadership team of the former Cedar Rapids Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 2003 she was able to return to serve students as president of St. Edmond Catholic Schools (2003-09) in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She currently serves the nearly 400 students as President of Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I have enjoyed all of these opportunities with their joys and challenges. One of the greatest accomplishments is each year at graduation. It is a reminder of why I do what I do — support students in being their best selves,” she said.
Sister Delores has a Bachelor’s from Mount Mercy College (now University) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a Master’s from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Sister Mary Jeanne Ward, RSM, ‘59 (religious name Sister Mary Madonna), began working with the Sisters of Mercy at St. James Orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, when she was in sixth grade. She continued this through high school which confirmed her desire to be a Sister. She entered the Community after graduating from Mercy High School in 1959.
Sister Jeanne spent much of her early years in ministry working with children. She served at St. James Home in Omaha (1964-65); taught at St. Joseph Grade School, Denver, Colorado (1965-66); Holy Cross, Omaha (1966-68); St. Thomas More, Omaha (1968-70); St. James, Kansas City, Missouri (1970-71) and Madonna School, Omaha (1971-72).
In 1972, Sister Jeanne moved east and became the principal at St. Maurice School in Bethesda, Maryland. She stayed in this position until 1980 when she became the project director for Mercy National Center (1980-81), also in Bethesda.
From 1982-90, Sister Jeanne ministered in housing. First as an intern at Warren Village, Denver (1982-83), and then at Mercy Management Services in Boise, Idaho (1983-90).
She returned to Omaha in 1990 to serve on the Omaha Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy, a position she held until 1998. She continued to serve her Community as the retirement coordinator (1998-07) and then the archivist (2008-13). She continues to serve as a volunteer at Mercy Villa. “Being a part of our beloved senior Sisters lives is a privilege,” she said.
Sister Jeanne has a Bachelor’s Degree from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, a Master’s Degree from Saint Louis University, and advanced certificates from Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland, and University of Nebraska Omaha.