Author tells of Sister Mechtilde's vocation story

by PATRICK J. BUECHI
Fri, Apr 29th 2016 09:00 am
Staff Reporter

Fans of the recent book, "The South Buffalo Boy Who Became Bishop," will enjoy the follow up, "The South Buffalo Girl Who Built a Hospital." Author Mariam R. Shannon again sets out to make a vocation book for children using local heroes and stories. This one tells the story of Anna Margaret O'Connor, who, like Bishop Joseph Burke, was born in South Buffalo to Irish immigrant parents and went on to accomplish great things after joining the religious life.

O'Connor is described as an average girl of her day, who enjoyed singing, playing the piano and shooting hoops on her basketball team. As a Catholic girl in Buffalo during the 1800s, she attended her parish school and public high school.

In 1905, she followed in her sister's footsteps and joined the Sisters of Mercy, an order founded in Dublin, Ireland, and became Sister Mechtilde. By entering the order at the young age of 21, Sister Mechtilde was able to have two long careers. She spent 30 years in education as teacher and principal in various schools. By 1930, she joined the health care field as administrator of St. Jerome Hospital in Batavia. She went on to oversee construction of three new wings as administrator of Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, and helped finance the building for Kenmore Mercy Hospital.

Shannon uses quotes, old photos and newspaper clippings to help tell the story. She also points out neat historical facts, such as the fact that basketball nets didn't have holes on the bottom. Every time someone made a basket, a stepladder had to be pulled out to retrieve the ball.

Shannon, a Buffalo schoolteacher for 30 years, has written "The South Buffalo Girl Who Built a Hospital," and her previous book hoping to inspire religious vocations among young girls and boys. The simple language she uses in her books makes them suitable for elementary- and junior high-aged children. Shannon also hopes to preserve memories and information for future generations.

She knew Sister Mechtilde when she was a child through Bishop Burke, her great-uncle, and has fond memories of going out for ice cream with the sister. "I am fortunate to have known (Sister Mechtilde) briefly as a child. It is inspiring to me that many before us prioritized practicing the faith, and passing it on, even to giving their whole lives to the service of the Church," said Shannon in her book.

"The South Buffalo Girl Who Built a Hospital," by Mariam R. Shannon, is available through Amazon.com and the Kenmore Mercy gift shop. Shannon hopes to get it in area bookstores soon.  

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