In Memory

Sister Mary Ellen Merrick, IHM

May 28, 1947 – April 7, 2019

Sister Mary Ellen Merrick, IHM, (formerly known as Sister Peter Marie) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died, after a brief illness, on April 7, 2019, at Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi, MI.

She was born on May 28, 1947, in Scranton, PA. She was the daughter of the late Peter and Dorothy King Merrick. She entered the IHM Congregation in on September 8, 1965 and made her temporary profession of vows on June 26, 1968 and her final profession of vows on September 8, 1973.

Sister Mary Ellen served as a teacher in the following schools: Wyoming Area Catholic Elementary School in Exeter, PA, from 1968 to 1977; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Clinton, MD, from 1977 to 1981; and St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, from 1981 to 1983.

Sister Mary Ellen served as an intern at St. Luke Institute in Suitland, MD, from 1983 to 1984; director of the outreach aftercare department at St. Luke Institute in Suitland, MD, from 1984 to 1989; affiliate professor of psychology at Loyola College in Columbia, MD, from 1985 to 2009; team member of the Institute of Psychiatry and Religion Department at Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicot City, NY, from 1989 to 1992; director of the IHM Congregation Consultation Center in Columbia, MD, from 1992 to 2009; and senior trauma therapist at the STAR Center in Columbia, MD, from 1992 to 2010.

From 2010 until the time of her death, Sister Mary Ellen served as the executive director at Guest House for Women Religious in Lake Orion, MI. Through her ministry there, she was able to expand programs and services, execute a plan that enlarged their physical buildings, and traveled broadly to promote the healing work of Guest House. During her term, the magazine, Human Development, came under the aegis of Guest House.

Sister Mary Ellen served as a Trustee of Marywood University from 2007 to 2019.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a Master of Science degree in reading specialty from Marywood College, a Master of Science degree in psychology/pastoral counseling and a Certificate of Advanced Studies degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola College, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral psychology from Loyola College.

She was preceded in death by a brother, William.

She is survived by cousins, Barbara Morris of Lansdale, PA, and Patricia Marra of Scranton, PA. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Monday, April 15, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Sunday, April 14, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Monday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.



Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Spring 2019 issue
Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Mary Ellen Merrick, Funeral April 15, 2019

When we honestly ask ourselves
which person in our lives means
the most to us, we often find that it
is those who, instead of giving…
solutions, or cures, have chosen
rather to share our pain and touch
our wounds with a warm and tender
hand. The friend who can be silent
with us in a moment of despair or
confusion, who can stay with us in
an hour of grief and bereavement,
who can tolerate not knowing, not
curing, not healing and face with us
the reality of our powerlessness,
that is a friend who cares.
Henri Nouwen

When I think about Mellyn and the ways she impacted the lives of so many people, these words of Henri Nouwen capture her best. We heard so many wonderful stories about Mellyn during these past several days and at the wake service yesterday, snapshots of her presence among us that, taken
together, paint a composite picture of what that presence meant to us and to our world. We heard about her generosity, courage, joy, sense
of humor, commitment, and yes, even at times, as I noted yesterday, her not so subtle deadpan face and stare that clearly conveyed far better
than any words, to friend and client alike, the clear message that your appeal or excuse was going nowhere, so move on!

We heard about Mellyn’s loving and supportive family and her quick sense of humor. In the words of Barbara’s husband, George, “she was a character.” She was fun to be around. She was described as a wonderful and caring junior high teacher, even influencing a future IHM vocation. We learned about her spirit of adventure and willingness to take risks, as evidenced by her own courageous decision to undertake a deeply personal journey toward wellness and growth that was to change her life as well as untold others. There were stories shared at the memorial service at
Guest House last week and here yesterday about Mellyn’s great love for her IHM congregation and her deep appreciation for the support and friendship of her IHM sisters throughout her journey. We listened as some recounted stories of how she helped countless individual sisters find their own path to recovery and about her efforts to educate and assist congregation leaders in understanding and supporting those efforts. In these stories, we caught insights into her passion and love for her ministry as executive director at Guest House and for all those with whom and for whom she ministered. It was a sacred ministry and she loved it; she found her niche, her “dream job,” as she called it. How many lives she
touched and enriched!

From our stories shared, then, we see the shaping of a beautiful mosaic of Mellyn’s life among us, a mosaic that brings Nouwen’s words to life: Mellyn was in fact that person who shared our pain and touched our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who was silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who stayed with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who…, faced with us the reality of our powerlessness…, a friend who cared. And a friend who made our lives better for having known her.

So today, gathered together as a community of faith, we celebrate and say thank you to Mary Ellen for her life among us, for her unwavering
courage and love of God and her great gratitude for all that God and life gave her, the rejoicings as well as the sufferings. Her life witnessed
to us the incredible power of that deep faith and trust in God to overcome the darkness in each of our own lives that can at times seem so overwhelming, whether it be caused by illness of any kind, loneliness, or loss. Mellyn’s own deep inner work opened her heart to the full encounter with God’s unlimited love and mercy and enabled her to share that truth with each heart she met. She understood that gentle compassion, understanding, respect, and yes, sometimes, even tough love was a source of God’s healing and light in our world and she brought those gifts to those to and with whom she ministered. Her commitment to her ministry and those she served knew no bounds, as witnessed by the many emails and cards from all over this country and beyond following the news of her death.

We are already missing Mellyn, but we rejoice that she is now at home with her God and enjoying eternal life with her parents, Dorothy and Peter, and her brother, William, who are now reunited with her. We can only imagine Mellyn’s smile last Sunday when she arrived in heaven and was met by her loving family and the God she loved so deeply.

We pray in a special way for those who will miss her dearly, especially her cousins, Barbara and Patsy and their families, her dear friends Martha and Denise, her many IHM friends, her Band members, the Marywood University community, the entire Guest House community, the many sisters and congregations she served in her ministry, and all who shared life with her, especially those who knew first-hand her compassionate, healing
presence. We ask the God of all consolation to comfort all of us who will miss her greatly.

When we leave this earth, the love that we’ve received remains behind to light the lives of those we’ve touched – each memory a candle burning

Mellyn’s presence among us challenged and encouraged us, stretched and comforted us. Her authenticity and openness reminded us that despite our own woundedness, we can each make a distinctive contribution to our world that is good and sacred; her searching for life’s meaning drew us in and ever closer to the God in whom she had absolute trust. So we will remember Mellyn in our thoughts, for sure, but she is definitely shaking her finger at us today and, with one eyebrow raised, reminding us that there is still much healing work to be done and it’s in our hands now.

As we gather around this table today, may we resolve to be examples of God’s love and care for others and may we be blessed by our own faith and hope in the resurrected Jesus and rejoice in the same God who today enfolds Mellyn in loving arms of eternal peace and joy.

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