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Sister Mary Grace Sherly

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 25/12/2016

SMSM Sisters
                            Sister Mary Grace Sherly, smsm
                        (Formerly: Sister Mary Rafael smsm)
                      June 8th, 1928 – December 25th, 2016
Mary Grace Sherly was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1928, one of three children born to John Michael
Sherly and Emelia Schweget Sherly, both of whom were also born in Chicago. Mary Grace graduated
from high school in 1946, and from Mundelein College in 1950, where she obtained a B.A. in
Sociology. She dedicated herself to social work in the Chicago area before she decided to enter the
Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary in Massachusetts on September 8th, 1960. She entered the
postulancy in Lowell and entered the novitiate in Bedford. In 1962 the novices moved to Waltham,
where she made her first vows on March 9th, 1963.
After her first vows, Sister Mary Grace was sent to our community in San Francisco, California, where
she did social work and catechetics. In 1966 she was missioned to Peru, arriving in Lima on October
16th. She went to language school to learn Spanish, and then was among the SMSM who pioneered the
mission in Chulucanas. Three years later she and Sisters Mary Godfrey and Teresa Pasterczyk were sent
to Tamboya, a remote village in the Prelature of Chulucanas. Because there was no resident priest there,
their pastoral work took on special demands. In 1972 Sr. Mary Grace came to the USA for her Long
Term Spiritual Renewal, then returned to Tamboya in January 1973. Apart from home visits and a year
in Chicago attending the Institute for Spiritual Leadership (’87-’88) Sister continued to minister to the
poor in Peru, and for a time, in Monteria, Colombia (1994-2000) until she returned to the USA in 2005
due to declining health.
Some of the Sisters who knew Sr. Mary Grace during her years in Peru and Colombia, contributed their
memories of her to the Words of Remembrance read by Sr. Dorothy Doran at the funeral:
      “Some of Mary Grace’s many ministries in Latin America included facilitating groups that
      ministered to developmentally disabled youth and adults. She worked with incarcerated youth and
      began an Alcoholics Anonymous group in the Lurigancho prison in Lima. Mary Grace also had a
      special affection for the spirituality and works of the Legion of Mary and through the years she
      maintained contacts with the Legion.
Many of us who lived with Mary Grace in community found her an easy person to be with.
Simplicity might be the best way to describe how she approached life”
Sr. Mary Rufina, who had been with Sr. Mary Grace in Monteria, remembered how she would ride
around town on a bike, and would sit and chat with the women as they made food for the fund raisers.
Mary Grace loved her cup of tea brewed in the traditional way, and when she was the community
coordinator, the monthly community meetings always included popcorn and coke!
After nearly 40 years of mission in Peru and Colombia, Sister Mary Grace was transferred back to North
America in 2005. For the first few years she lived in the 62 Newton Street community where she gave
community service while she attended to some of her health needs. In 2008 she moved to the Marillac
Residence in Wellesley Hills until December 2010, when she came to Maristhill Nursing Home for
therapy after surgery for a fractured hip.
Sister Dorothy Doran, who was a frequent visitor to Sr. Mary Grace during these last years, gave this
reflection of her last years at Maristhill:
       “It was her final mission where the mystery of her suffering entered into a deep relationship with
       Jesus on the cross.
      When I visited Mary Grace at Maristhill, I often didn’t get a response, but I knew there was a
      connection with me. Sometimes I just sat with her and we were silent.
      In 2013, in honor of Mary Grace’s Golden Jubilee, a party was held for her at Maristhill. During the
      party Mary Grace told us that Jesus sometimes came to visit her.
      On Christmas morning, 2016, Jesus came to take her home.”
We give thanks for the wonderful example you have given us, Mary Grace, of a life “lived according to
the Marist spirit: in humility, obedience, forgetfulness of self, love of neighbor, and love of God.” (C 47)
We believe that Jesus and Mary have now welcomed you into the fullness of life. Pray for all of us who
strive to follow along the same path.
Gratefully in Mary,
Sister Mary Jane Kenney, smsm (Regional Leader)
Sister Virginia Fornasa, smsm (Communications Secretary)