Congratulations Sisters of Providence Jubilarians!
The following Sisters are observing milestone anniversaries as Sisters of Providence this year. Celebrating 70 years are Sisters Mary Peter Meckel, Mary Caritas Geary and Mary Cecilia Vallee. Celebrating 60 years are Sisters Margaret McCleary and Priscilla St. Pierre. Community celebrations were held at both Providence Place and Mary’s Meadow.
Sister Mary Peter Meckel, born Rosemary Louise Meckel, is the daughter of the late William and Mary (Cadigan) Meckel, and initially ministered a combined 20 years in the business and accounting offices at St. Vincent Hospital, Worcester, St. Luke’s Hospital, Pittsfield, and Providence Hospital, Holyoke. At St. Vincent’s her positions included controller and supervisor of the business office; at St. Luke’s she worked as an accountant; and at Providence Hospital she was planning and development director and assistant controller. She also served there as grant director and director of special projects for the Hospital’s Methadone Maintenance Program.
Beginning in 1977 her attention turned to advocacy on behalf of poor and marginalized persons. She accepted a position as Executive Director of Open Pantry Community Services, Inc., Springfield, from 1978-1988. During that time, she founded Open Pantry’s Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, the Jefferson Street Shelter (for women) and the Calhoun Street Shelter (for women and children). From 1988-1990, she was the assistant director and grant writer at St. Francis House, Boston.
She then co-directed the Franklin County Community Meals Program, Greenfield, and during that time founded the Sisters of Providence SHARE (Self Help and Resource Exchange) before relocating to North Carolina in 1997. There she served on the St. Joseph of the Pines Board, Southern Pines, and was a ten-year Literacy Volunteer and Grant Writer for the Robeson County Church and Community Center, Lumberton.
Sister Mary Peter was elected to two, four-year consecutive terms on the Sisters of Providence Executive Council (1989-1997), was a Board member of the Sisters of Providence Health System, and on the Community’s Peace and Justice Committee.
A graduate of Sacred Heart High School in Holyoke, she earned a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree from Bentley College, Boston, and a Master degree in business administration from Boston College. Named Bentley College’s Outstanding Student, Class of 1965, she was honored as Woman of the Year by the Women’s Division of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce in 1985.
Sister Mary Caritas Geary was a registered nurse when she entered the Sisters of Providence from St. Michael’s Cathedral Parish, Springfield. Known in secular life as Hannah Jean Geary, she is the daughter of the late John and Kathryn (Slattery) Geary.
Among her ministries, she served two consecutive terms as President of the Congregation, 1969-1977, and as President of Mercy Medical Center for 17 years (1977-1993). She was the Congregation’s Vice President from 2009-2013, resuming that office in 2016 to the present.
Sister Caritas’ early ministries included nursing at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester (1949-1953), and nursing at Mercy Hospital, Springfield. Later she served as Administrative Dietitian at Providence Hospital, Holyoke (1959-1966), as Hospital Administrator at St. Luke’s Hospital, Pittsfield (1966-1969), and as Associate Director of Berkshire Medical Center in 1969. She was Legislative/Advocacy Coordinator for the Sisters of Providence from 1993-2009, and the Congregation’s special projects and advocacy coordinator from 2013 until 2016.
She serves on numerous Boards and as an advocate of health care issues and health care. Her current local Board memberships include the Sisters of Providence Ministry Corporation; Providence Place/Mary’s Meadow; Providence Ministries for the Needy; the Sisters of Providence Health System and Foundation Boards; Westmass Development Corporation; the regional Trinity Health–New England Board; and the Greater Springfield Senior Services Board.
She serves also on the St. Joseph of the Pines Health System (SJP) Board in Southern Pines, N.C.
A graduate of the High School of Commerce and Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, both in Springfield, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Regis College, Weston, and a Master’s in education degree in nutrition from Tufts University, Medford. She holds a Certificate of Executive Management from St. Louis University, Mo., and completed a dietetic internship at the Frances Stern Food Clinic, New England Medical Center, Boston.
Among her many honors, she was the recipient of Springfield’s William Pynchon Award in 1983; the national Catholic Health Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003; and in 2016, the Caring Heart Award from the Caring Health Center, Springfield; and received four honorary doctoral degrees from area colleges.
Sister Mary Cecilia Vallee, known in secular life as Mary Louise Evelyn Vallee, is the daughter of the late Paul and Sophie (Pottie) Vallee. She entered the Sisters of Providence from St. Patrick’s Parish, Whitinsville.
In her early years, she worked in records rooms at Mercy Hospital, Springfield (1954-1957), and St. Vincent Hospital, Worcester (1957-1963). Returning to Mercy Hospital in 1963, she supervised the record room until 1970 when she left to study in Holyoke Community College’s medical records technology program. After earning her associate degree, she was a medical records instructor at Holyoke Community College prior to her ministry as medical records librarian at Farren Memorial Hospital, Montague City (1971-1972) and as director of medical records at Mercy Hospital from 1972-1976.
In 1976 Sister Mary Cecilia’s ministry focus turned to parish work and for more than two decades she served parishes in Holyoke as census taker and in other capacities such as pastoral assistant and evangelizer. These churches included St. Jerome’s Parish, Holy Cross Parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish for 20 years (1979-1998), and following her 1998 retirement, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
Sister Mary Cecilia graduated from Northbridge High School, Northbridge, attended Gregg College, Chicago, Ill., earned credits at Boston College School of Nursing, Boston, and a diploma from Bryant and Stratton Business School, Boston.
She was a member of the American, Massachusetts, and Central Massachusetts Medical Records Associations, secretary of the Western Massachusetts Medical Records Association and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.
Sister Mary Cecilia was the founder and long time coordinator of the Western Massachusetts Branch of the Consolers of the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary, lay apostolate. She also developed PFCK (Prayer Followers of Christ the King), now a prayer family with over 100 members.
Sister Margaret MCCleary entered the Sisters of Providence from Sacred Heart Parish, Springfield. She is the daughter of the late James E. and Josephine A. (Gut) McCleary.
For the past six decades, Sister Margaret has ministered in a broad range of ministries including Mercy Hospital, Springfield, Admitting Office and Registrar of the School of Nursing; the Department of Social Service at Our Lady of Providence Children’s Center, West Springfield; Secretary to the Executive Director at Farren Memorial Hospital, Montague City; Chief Admitting Officer of Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield; and Director of Resident Programs, Providence Place, Holyoke. She was also involved in home visiting for the Bureau for Exceptional Children and Adults, Holyoke, and Administrative Assistant at Our Lady of Peace Spiritual Life Center, Narragansett, R.I. Currently, she is the Local Coordinator for the Sisters who reside at Providence Place.
In 1977 she was elected to serve on the Sisters of Providence Executive Council (1977-1981) and appointed Secretary General and personal secretary to the Director of the Congregation. During this period also she founded Providence Ministries for the Needy, Inc., Holyoke, and served as its Administrator for ten years.
Sister Margaret, a graduate of Cathedral High School, Springfield, earned an Associate degree in secretarial science from Holyoke Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from the College of St. Rose, Albany, N.Y., and a Master of Education degree in management from Cambridge College, Springfield, and was awarded an Honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the Trustees of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley.
Sister Priscilla St. Pierre, a native of Brunswick, Maine, is the daughter of the late Arthur and Alice (LaLiberte) St. Pierre and entered the Sisters of Providence from St. Charles Borromeo Parish, now All Saints Parish, Brunswick.
Sister Priscilla’s ministries include her service to her Community in various housekeeping, dietary and supervisory capacities at Providence Mother House, Holyoke, Greylock Rest, Adams, and Our Lady of Providence Children’s Center, West Springfield. She worked as a technician aide in radiology at Berkshire Medical Center for 13 years (1972-1985) and for five of those years was a hospice volunteer (1981-1985).
Returning to Holyoke, Sister Priscilla served as a teacher’s aide at People’s Institute Child Care, Northampton, for a year before beginning a new ministry as activities assistant in the Adult Day Health Program at Mercy Medical Center where she remained for 13 years (1986-1999).
Sister Priscilla served also as a part-time sacristan in Our Mother of Sorrows Chapel at Providence Place and volunteered in recreational activities planned for residents at Providence Place.
She is a graduate of Brunswick High, Brunswick, Maine, and earned certificates from the hospice volunteer training program in Pittsfield, and in elder recreation services from Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, and another certificate, this time as an activity assistant from the Massachusetts Council for Activities Professionals.