Sister Mary Powell dies at 91

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Sister Mary Powell of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, formerly Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, died June 5. She was 91.

The funeral Mass was June 13 at St. Mary Center Chapel. Burial was in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Tonawanda.

She was born Charlotte Powell on May 12, 1920, in Buffalo, the daughter of the late Robert and Emma Linsler Powell. She entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur after high school in 1937 and took her perpetual vows on August 15, 1946.

Sister Mary earned a Bachelor of Arts from Canisius College in 1952, a Bachelor of Science in home economics from Marywood College in 1953, and a Master of Home Economics from St. Louis University in 1960.

She taught at several New York schools, including St. John the Baptist in Kenmore, St. Joseph’s Academy in Lockport, St. Mary Seminary in Buffalo, and Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore.

In 1972, she was assigned to Florence, S.C., where she made home visitations and taught adult education.
In 1977 she began her ministry with the S.C. Department of Corrections as a teacher at Wateree River Correctional Institution.

In 1978, she switched to the MacDougall Correctional Center, where she remained until her retirement in 1983. A year later the department asked her to return and she worked for another four years before full retirement. At the request of the S.C. corrections department, Sister Mary continued to present workshops on self-esteem and employability skills for inmates throughout the state until 1997.

Sometimes she used rap songs to help inmates remember what she was teaching. The religious sister often told the inmates if they made a mistake, to dust themselves off and keep on going.

Sister Mary worked at the Sister M. Loretto Community Soup Kitchen in Lockport, and became a HOPE House volunteer.

She is survived by many nieces and nephews, and her sisters in the congregation.

Memorial donations may be made to the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, 241 Lafayette Ave., Buffalo, NY 14213.