Sister Maura Smith (1926 - 2015)

Obituary
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Sister Maura Smith, RSM, died on Nov. 13, 2015, at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse. She was in the 69th year of religious life.
Born on July 14, 1926, in Buffalo, N.Y., and baptized Mary Joan, she was the daughter of the late Edwin Leo and Eleanor Catherine (Oehler) Smith.
On Sept. 8, 1946, she entered the Sisters of Mercy at St. Joseph Convent, Titusville, Pa., from Immaculate Conception Parish, East Aurora, N.Y. She professed perpetual vows on June 22, 1952. In 1974, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee; in 1997, her Golden Jubilee; and in 2006, her Diamond Jubilee.
She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Mercyhurst College (University); her master's in biology and curriculum from the Catholic University of America; and her doctorate in educational instruction with a science concentration from the University of Florida, where she also undertook studies in medicine.
Sister Maura was a dedicated educator, which clearly shined forth whether she was teaching or administering a school, programs or a community. Soon after entering the Sisters of Mercy, she taught in Erie diocesan elementary schools: St. Catherine, DuBois; St. Titus, Titusville; St. Michael, Greenville; and in St. Justin, Pittsburgh; served as principal of St. Michael School; and taught high school in the DuBois and Pittsburgh schools, and at Saints Cosmas and Damian in Punxsutawney.
After completing her doctorate, she founded the environmental studies department at Mercyhurst College, and became professor and chair of that department. For a decade (1977-87), she was principal of Mercyhurst Preparatory School. For over two decades, she remained an engaged member of the Mercyhurst University board of trustees, helping to launch many of its sustainability initiatives.
From 1987-96, Sister Maura was president of the Erie Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy. After taking a sabbatical as an associate in housing at the McAuley Institute, Silver Springs, Md., she returned to Erie and spent her later years educating civic groups on building better, healthier communities, and developing Mercy Center for Women and the House of Mercy.
Her years of engagement earned her many recognitions: Mercyhurst University awarded her Alumnae of the Year Award (1998), The Archbishop Oscar Romero Award (2006), and the Sustainability Award (2009). Mercy Center for Women honored her as a Women Making History (2000). Mercyhurst Preparatory School dedicated their newly renovated Science Department to her (2007) and named her an Honorary Alumna at their 2013 Gala.
Members of her religious community, her sister Eleanor (Sally) Conmy of Cleveland, Ohio, and many nieces and nephews survive her.
In addition to her parents, her brothers Thomas J. and Leo Smith and sisters Veronica (Ronnie) Lucas and Kathy Smith have preceded her in death.
Friends may call at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, 444 East Grandview Blvd., from 2-4 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. today, Sunday, Nov. 15, and on Monday, Nov. 16, from 2 p.m. until time of the Funeral Mass at 4:45 p.m. in the Sisters of Mercy Chapel. A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening in the Chapel. A rite of departure will take place at the Motherhouse at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, with the rite of committal following at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Ministry Fund. Dusckas Funeral Home, Inc. 2607 Buffalo Road, Erie, Pa. is handling the arrangements.
Funeral Home
Dusckas Funeral Home - East Side
2607 Buffalo Road
Erie, PA 16510
(814) 899-7656
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Published in The Courier Express from Nov. 15 to Nov. 16, 2015
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