Sister Mary Donlon, teacher, librarian

Sister Mary Donlon
Sister Mary Donlon
Posted: June 14, 2013

Sister Mary Donlon, 71, who devoted her life to teaching and nurturing children, died Saturday, June 8, of chronic lung disease at Lankenau Hospital.

Sister Mary graduated from the Academy of the Sisters of Mercy in Gwynedd Valley in 1960 and entered the order in August of that year. She professed her vows in April 1963.

She taught elementary students at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Northeast Philadelphia, at Holy Martyrs in Oreland, and in the Dioceses of Allentown and Raleigh, N.C.

In 1977, she earned a master's degree in elementary education from Seton Hall University. In 1978, she joined the faculty of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy.

As part of the elementary division, she worked in the learning center and later as librarian. Students and colleagues benefitted from her knowledge of children's literature.

Sister Mary was gentle and caring, and children were drawn to her. One little girl wrote: "Why I love Sister Mary - because she shows me things about God."

Adults respected her as a "woman of wisdom and integrity, who knew when to speak and when to listen," said a colleague, Sister Joanne McIlhenney. "Her insights contributed to many sound choices."

In 1995, Sister Mary became master teacher and religion coordinator at Hobbit House, the early learning center at Gwynedd-Mercy College. She remained on the staff until illness forced her retirement in May 2012.

For 30 years, Sister Mary resided at St. Catherine of Siena Convent in Horsham. When it closed in 2012, she moved to the Convent of Mercy in Merion.

A nature lover, she used fabric, flowers, and items from the sea to create works of art.

Surviving are several cousins.

Services will be Thursday, June 13, at the Convent of Mercy Chapel, 515 Montgomery Ave., Merion. A 6 p.m. viewing will be followed by a 7 p.m. Funeral Mass. Burial will be Friday in the Sisters of Mercy community cemetery in Merion.

Contributions may be made to Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community, 515 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, Pa. 19066.

Condolences to the family may be offered at

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or

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