Sister Elizabeth Mercer, a beloved Sister of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia for seventy-three years died on July 28, 2018 at Saint Joseph Villa, Flourtown, Pennsylvania. Betty devoted forty-one of those years to the people of the diocese of Camden. Several days before her death she received a hand-written note from Bishop Dennis Sullivan of the Diocese of Camden. Expressing his gratitude for her “exemplary service” he said, “You touched so many lives with the gospel and with Christ and brought people to God. You should not only be proud of your witness, but also take comfort in it and enjoy your memories.”
Betty was raised by her grandparents and attended Holy Saviour School in Linwood, Pennsylvania and Notre Dame High School, Moylan. She entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1945 and received the religious name Sister Mary Claude. Relationships with family, friends and community were important to her. Betty was known for her gentle and compassionate ways. She was committed to ongoing spiritual growth.
The first twenty-five years of Betty’s ministry were spent as teacher in elementary schools in the Archdioceses of Newark and Philadelphia. She was among the first sisters to be educated and to serve as a Director of Religious Education—a ministry she embraced in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Camden.
For the past twenty-seven years Betty’s ministry was among the people of Saint Augustine Parish in Ocean City, New Jersey. What began as service in the area of religious education expanded to visiting the homebound, working with Senior citizens and offering them a place of hospitality in the convent so they could socialize. Until her final days of ministry she continued to lead a scripture group. Betty was loved by the people. It was even said that she was “the unofficial mayor of Ocean City in the Catholic world.” Her heart was open to all creation including her beloved pets. In her short time of illness at the Villa, Betty was gracious in allowing others to assist her and was grateful to each one.
Reflecting on Betty’s life at the Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at Saint Joseph Villa on July 31, Sister Anne Myers offered these words:
Sister Betty, you lived our mission of uniting all people with God and one another in a spirit of great joy and great love. Thank you for your generosity, for serving God, not counting the cost, working without seeking rest, and spending yourself for others. What a beautiful example you have been for us. May you now rejoice and rest forever in the love of Jesus, the One you have served so well.