OLMs celebrate 125 years of combined dedicated service of two sisters

CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy joined in celebration of two jubilarians: Sister Carmelita Boyd, with 65 years, and Sister Mary Thomas Neal, with 60 years of dedicated service to the mission of Christ in the Diocese of Charleston. The bishop celebrated the Eucharist at May Forest and then joined the sisters for jubilee dinner.

Born in Ottawa, Canada, Sister Carmelita Boyd lived most of her early life in Long Island, New York. Sister Carmelita entered the convent on Aug. 15, 1953. Sister professed her first vows on Aug. 22, 1956, and perpetual vows Aug. 22, 1958. Educated at Seton Hall, Winthrop and the Citadel in the field of education, Sister Carmelita spent most of her years in active ministry as an educator, teaching in Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Charleston and in the Trenton Diocese of New Jersey. She also served as principal at the Cathedral School and St. Anne School in Sumter, S.C. Along with her many years as an educator, Sister Carmelita also served as a pastoral assistant at St. Joseph’s parish in Charleston, Divine Savior parish in York, and St. Mary Magdalene parish in Simpsonville.

“The greatest gift I have received in being a vowed religious is the peace and joy I have had in spending my life serving the Lord.  I want to thank my community for the support, love, and compassion they have shown me throughout the years. They are truly Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy,” Sister Carmelita said.

Born in Summerville, S.C., Sister Mary Thomas Neal learned about the sisters from her religious education classes and sessions at Catholic camp programs. Sister Mary Thomas entered the convent on Aug. 22, 1958. She professed her first vows on Aug. 15, 1961, and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1964. Sister Mary Thomas was also an educator. She served at various schools in the Diocese of Charleston and in the education ministry in the Dioceses of Trenton, Metuchen, and Camden, N.J. She was both a teacher and principal at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin School in Middlesex, N.J., and a teacher at St. Michael School in Gibbstown, N.J.

As an educator, Sister Mary Thomas served as chairperson of the Northwest Section of the Diocese of Trenton Principals and on the Principal’s Advisory Council for the Diocese of Metuchen. She also served on the Stewardship Council for the Diocese of Charleston.

Sister Mary Thomas found multiple ways to forward the charity charism. She served in a number of leadership positions within her religious community. She was a member of the Formation Team and the Personal Development Committee during a time of renewal. Sister Mary Thomas also served as the general treasurer of the community for six years. For the last 10 years, she was the NGO liaison to the U.N. for her community. Sister Mary Thomas Neal is an advocate for victims of human trafficking.

“The greatest gift I’ve received from my call to religious life has been the many opportunities given to develop spiritually. We sisters have met, heard, and learned from numerous outstanding spiritual leaders. Discussions have broadened my point of view as each sister hears differently. No doubt, for many reasons religious life is a precious treasure,” Sister Mary Thomas said.

Currently both Sister Carmelita and Sister Mary Thomas continue to serve others through letter writing and phone calls of support to the homebound and to persons who are incarcerated. Both sisters can often be found in the chapel reading and praying for others through the ministry of daily prayer.

Submitted by Sister Carol Wentworth, OLM

Photo provided: Sister Mary Thomas Neal (from left), Vicar General Father D. Anthony Droze, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Sister Carmelita Boyd enjoy a jubilee celebration at the May Forest motherhouse on Aug. 19.