S. Mary Kathryn McFerrin
Mary Kathryn McFerrin died July 29, 2019, at the age of 90 in Mother Margaret Hall. S. Mary Kathryn was born on Dec. 30, 1928, to Charles E. and Florentine (Stein) McFerrin in Chillicothe, Ohio. She was a Sister of Charity for 71 years.
Mary Kathryn grew up in Chillicothe, attending St. Mary grade school and graduating from Catholic Central High School in 1947. She was taught by the Sisters of Charity in grades one through 12. Her early remembrances of a call to religious life came in the fourth grade with May processions and May devotions; it was the influence of S. John Francis Burns in high school that she credits with fostering her vocation.
Mary Kathryn earned a Bachelor of Science in education from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1957 and a master of education from the University of Detroit in 1967. Her ministries included more than 35 years in education as teacher, librarian and principal, serving schools in the dioceses of Denver, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Covington, Kentucky. S. Mary Kathryn began teaching in 1949 at Loyola, Denver; from there she went to Cathedral, Denver in 1952. In 1954 she taught at St. Mary, Marion, Ohio, followed by a move to junior high at Guardian Angels, Detroit in 1959. Queen of Martyrs, Birmingham, Michigan (1960-’61), and St. Louis, Mt. Clemens, Michigan (1961-’64), kept her in the greater Detroit area until being called to ministries at St. Bernadette, Amelia, Ohio (1964-’68) and St. Rose, Lima, Ohio (1968-’70). In 1968 she received a call to serve as principal at St. Michael, Findlay, Ohio, a ministry she found as both a challenge and greatly satisfying. In 1976 she returned to Marion, first at St. Mary and then at Marion Catholic High School (1976-’81).
It was at this time in her life that S. Mary Kathryn chose to participate in the year-long Active Spirituality Program for a Global Community at the College of Mount St. Joseph, an opportunity she valued and one that greatly energized her. Following this experience she looked to new roles, first as librarian at the Mount Campus School (1982-’83); then as administrative assistant at Corpus Christi School, Newport, Kentucky (1983-’84); librarian at St. Charles, Kettering, Ohio (1984-86); and as arts and crafts coordinator (1986-’92) and receptionist (1992-’94) at Mother Margaret Hall. While living as a resident in the Motherhouse S. Mary Kathryn was known for her monthly movie nights, complete with refreshments. She moved to Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility in 2013.
Mary Kathryn felt a passion for social justice issues, especially homelessness and immigration. She believed that if we lived the Gospel of Jesus more fully, we, as Church, could eradicate all forms of injustice. Her love for the arts, especially music and watercolor, provided ongoing resources for her prayer life. Of the SC Congregation she stated, “I am proud of the ‘SC’ behind my name. To me it means that I belong to a community that uses its human and financial resources for the continuation of Jesus’ mission – charity.”
In the Sister of Charity Community S. Mary Kathryn is well known for her beautiful mandalas, creations she drew while meditating on Scripture verses. She referred to them as sacred circles, a circular creation incorporating circles and triangles; taken together they represent wholeness. She created a new one every day as an important facet of her prayer life with a Scriptural reference below. She often gave them away to friends or family members; she created well over 3,000 of them.