2013 Distinguished Alumna

2013 Mercy High School Distinguished Alumna

Mary Anne Keating McDonnell ’46

Lifelong Social Worker
Affiliate, Daughters of Charity

Mercy High School is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Alumna Award, Mary Anne Keating McDonnell ’46. Mary Anne will receive her award at Tea for Tuition on April 28.

A member of the first graduating class, Mary Anne spent her senior year (1945-1946) at Our Lady of Mercy High School, having transferred from Ursuline Convent School in Ontario. Those formative days at Mercy instilled a giving spirit in Mary Anne. In fact, her first volunteer experience came as a Mercy student preparing meals for the Little Sisters of the Poor. Mary Anne looks back fondly on that experience. “It all started there,” she says.

Mary Anne earned a Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Detroit and took graduate courses in social work and education, on her way to becoming a Certified Social Worker. She immersed herself in the work of agencies such as Catholic Social Services, St. Mary’s Hospital, and St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center. As a foster care worker, her territory stretched 55 miles from Detroit to Marine City, in a time with no expressways. Mary Anne took it all in stride.

Much like Catherine McAuley, Mary Anne was proactive and resourceful in her ministry. She rented vacated convents and rectories in Detroit, refurbished them, and set up community-based homes for unwed mothers. She ensured that the residents, many of them teenagers, received food, shelter, and compassion. She was on call at all times. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, she would cook dinner for the residents before going home to her own family event.

Noreen McGowan Keating ’58 notes, “Mary Anne is truly a woman making a difference. When you combine her dedication to her family with her work with the poor and disenfranchised of our modern world, Mary Anne is a near match for the values of Mother McAuley.”

Mary Anne “retired” at age 62, then worked part-time for Sarah Fisher’s Marillac outreach and O’Brien/Sullivan Funeral Home. She was instrumental in forming the Christian Service Ministry at St. James Church in Novi. Presently, she volunteers at Providence Hospital.

Mary Anne reflects, “The original school values are still part of my lifestyle. I am an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. I take communion to hospitals and am a greeter at a cancer center. My primary mission in life has been the respect and dignity of all people. This started in my family and hopefully has been given to all I have served in a variety of ways.”

Mary Anne married Bruce McDonnell in 1956. Bruce passed away in 2009. Five children and nine grandchildren continue to bring joy to her life.