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May 23, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 15


Sr. Anne Marie Mack

Sr. Anne Marie Mack — 50 years with Bon Secours

What started out as an after school job while in high school became a lifetime vocation for Sister Anne Marie Mack who recently celebrated her 50th anniversary with the Congregation of Bon Secours.

Now senior vice president of sponsorship for Bon Secours with her office at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Sister Anne Marie reflected on her vocation.

“I was born and raised in Philly and went to Archbishop Prendergast High School (an all-girls Catholic school in Upper Darby),” she said. “There were 900 girls in one grade, but all the Catholic high schools were that way at that time in the 1960s.”

After classes ended she worked each weekday afternoon at St. Francis Country House in Darby where she recalls she earned 40 cents an hour. But when she became a senior she and others in that class earned 50 cents an hour.

“That’s where I met the sisters,” Anne Marie said of the Bon Secours sisters who operate the skilled nursing facility.

“I wanted to be a nurse and the sisters trained us to be nurses’ aides,” she said.

The oldest of eight children, she remembers what first drew her to the possibility of entering the Bon Secours congregation.

“I was waiting at night for my father to pick me up after work,” Sister Anne Marie said. “I could hear the sisters on the front porch and they were laughing and seemed to be having a good time.

“They were very down to earth and human,” she added.

After graduating from high school in 1965 she planned to enter nursing school. She did so by entering the Congregation of Bon Secours that September.

The first three years were Bon Secours formation in which the women studied theology.

“In the last year we took introductory courses in sociology and psychology,” she explained.

“After the third year I went to the University of Delaware College of Nursing, a four-year program,” Sister Anne Marie said. “I lived in the college dormitory with two other sisters.

“They never had sisters in the dorm before. We were the only sisters at the time on the campus.”

Upon earning a bachelor of science degree in nursing, Sister Anne Marie spent four years at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore.

“I was first staff nurse, then head nurse for what we referred to as the step down unit,” she said.

Her next assignment was at Grosse Pointe, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, where she was for 17 years.

“When I was in Grosse Pointe I was clinical coordinator of nursing at Bon Secours Hospital and director of nursing at a nursing facility in St. Clair Shores, Mich.

She was elected president of the Sisters of Bon Secours USA in the United States and held that position for eight years working in Marriottsville, Md. The community is worldwide with the motherhouse in Paris.

“I have now been in Richmond for 10 years,” Sister Anne Marie said.

She is pleased with what she calls “tremendous changes in nursing.”

“It has changed for the good,” Sister Anne Marie said. “Nursing education has progressed.

“The very basic things of being a nurse haven’t changed—to help people and to just have a real interest in people,” she added.

Catholic health care adds a different dimension, she feels, in that it is faith-based. But it’s focus goes beyond the religious calling of the sisters, she contends.

“The values of Bon Secours are deeply embedded in all the people who work here,” Sister Anne Marie said. “There are only 28 sisters of Bon Secours in the United States.

“We’ve put a big emphasis on formation of all of our lay staff, for all of them to carry on our ministry.

“The future lies in committed and dedicated value-laden lay people.”

Asked if she would follow the same path if she were to do it all over again, Sister Anne Marie smiled.

“Yes, I can’t imagine me doing anything else,” she replied.

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