JANUARY 2005: SISTER MARILYN MCCORMICK
Living each day of life to the fullest….Sister Marilyn McCormick, OSF
When Sister Marilyn McCormick, OSF was eleven years old her grandmother and uncle came to live with her family and each stayed there until their death. The daily interactions with them impacted Sister Marilyn and she believes it was the beginning of her love and compassion for the elderly…an affection that has been enriched throughout the years through her work as a Hospital Sister.
Today she recalls that “one of my greatest treasures has been working in Loretto Home (the retirement area at the Motherhouse) with our own Sisters.” “The wisdom and experiences they shared with me both professionally and spiritually have been a blessing for me. They have helped me to come to know the important thing in my life - coming to know God and serving God in all that I do,” she explained.
St. Joseph’s Hospital, Highland, Illinois
For the past ten years, Sister Marilyn has worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Highland, IL, and has been the coordinator of Pastoral Care since 2001. When invited to comment on the work of Sister Marilyn, several coworkers willingly shared their thoughts on her and the work she does in Highland.
Betty Timmermann, registered dietician, said “Sister Marilyn is St. Joseph's Hospital in the eyes of many of the patients and staff.” “Her dedication to the pastoral care ministry is a strength and asset that patients, staff and physicians come to call on frequently,” Betty added. “It is during those most difficult end-of-life times that Sister Marilyn's strengths are most evident and I have frequently heard family say they don't know how they would have gotten through this without her,” Betty explained. “She has touched the lives of so many with her quiet and respectful ways - we are truly blessed to have her here,” she added.
“Sister Marilyn goes beyond performing well in her role as Pastoral Care Coordinator,” Mike Wagoner, Director of Human Resources said. “Sister Marilyn has a calming, gentle presence about her and through the way she lives her life promotes the mission, vision, and values of St. Joseph's Hospital and the Hospital Sisters,” he added.
Becky Devore, Pastoral Care Associate, said “Sister Marilyn and I celebrated our tenth year as co-workers in pastoral care last October. In that time I have come to appreciate her gifts of authenticity and leadership, and I consider her to be a special friend on the journey,” Becky commented.
Her story begins on January 2, 1943 in Bogota, IL when she was born the youngest of six children (4 girls and 2 boys). “I was about six when I knew that I wanted to be a sister,” she said. She was instructed by the Poor Handmaids for two months regularly and then on weekends until the fifth grade and Sister Marilyn was fond of their long dresses. After graduating from high school she worked at St. John’s Hospital (Springfield) as a nurse aide and it was then that she had contact with the Hospital Sisters (Sisters Mary Elizabeth Brya, Patrick Whalen and Ann Bailey, who was the vocation promoter at St. John’s). “I met with Sr. Ann and Fr. Terrence Tracey, Hospital chaplain, and both helped me discern which community I would join,” she explained.
Her childhood memories are of farming, especially in thrashing, baling hay and butchering. When she was in high school, she helped her mother with many different jobs. “We worked inside and outside together and we had become quite a little team in getting things done,” Sister Marilyn said. “We cooked, canned, gardened cleaned and whatever else; I learned to love all of creation,” she added.
She entered the Community on September 1, 1962, took the name Sister Ruth Marie, and later professed final vows on May 31, 1971. She graduated from Springfield School of Practical Nursing and earned an Associates Degree in Gerontology from St. Mary’s-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. She has also received pastoral care training from Christian Hospital NE and Alexian Brothers Health System. Her assignments include St. John’s Hospital (Springfield), St. Joseph’s Home for the Infirm and Aged (Monroe), the Motherhouse (Springfield), Illini House (Springfield), Franciscan Apostolic Center (Springfield), House of Prayer (Henry), St. Francis Hospital (Litchfield), St. Joseph’s Hospital (Highland).
Finding rewards in Pastoral Care
The work of pastoral care is a unique offering in the Sisters’ hospitals. For Sister Marilyn, her philosophy is simple stated: “make my work a prayer and always be aware of God’s helping hand in all that I do.” Lucille Raker, R.N., Unit Director of the Extended Care Center, said “Sister Marilyn is a treasured member of our staff and she is always available to comfort the dying or grieving and has used her healing hands to calm a distressed patient.”
“From my work with grief and cancer support groups I am constantly being reminded how fragile life is and to enjoy and live each day of life to the fullest,” Sister Marilyn said. “They have helped me to live in the moment and to do the things I want to do now and not wait,” she added.
Sister Marilyn recalls a favorite story. “When I was working in a nursing home and one of the patients (Jay) said to me ‘Sister every time you go by the door it’s like God goes by.’ As I shared this with another I realized that most likely I was the only person that they see who represents God to them. Now I am more aware that my presence is sharing my God with others,” she concluded.