Sr Mary Zachary Hurley

Sr Mary Zachary Hurley

Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Death 19 Sep 2007 (aged 94)
Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, USA
Burial Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 21842509 · View Source
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Remembering Sister Mary Zachary Hurley, IHM

Nov. 8, 1912 - Sept. 19, 2007

It all began at 7112 Lisbon Street in Detroit, Mich. On Nov. 8, 1912, Sister Mary Zachary Hurley was born to wonderful Irish parents, James Joseph and Ellen Agnes (Dillon) Hurley. Receiving the name Mary Josephine, she was baptized on Nov. 24, 1912 in St. Vincent church, Detroit, Mich. She was the eldest of six children: two brothers, Thomas and James; three sisters, Agnes, Rita and Elizabeth. When Mary Josephine was 16, the last child, Elizabeth, was born. For the first time, she tells us, she was permitted to remain at home to welcome the newborn.

Mary spent many happy years growing up in a large family of loving relatives. She was "terribly Irish," and it was said that she cried when someone told her that God was NOT Irish.

The Hurley family had a prayer which was repeated frequently, especially in times of emergency. It went something like this: "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, we have asked you for many favors, but we plead for this one. Take it, place it in your open, broken heart, covered with the mantle of your most Precious Blood. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, He will not refuse it. It is not our prayer, but Yours." It was this prayer that was said when each child was born and when a loved one died. When little Mary was only two weeks old, she contracted pneumonia, and so it was that the family had recourse to their favorite prayer. Her mother and grandmother bundled her up and rushed her to St. Vincent's where the priest placed her on Our Lady's altar. Mary's mother promised that her child would wear blue and white for seven years if she were cured, and so she was.

As Mary grew up with her three sisters and two brothers, she and Tom would often play "celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," assisted by her other siblings. So it came as no surprise when, at age 17, Mary visited Mother Ruth Hankerd to receive permission to become an IHM Sister. She was, in fact, so anxious to go to the convent that she would have left that very same day had she been allowed.

Mary's mother was openly happy for her daughter's sake, but she wept tears of sorrow in her heart. When the great day finally arrived for Mary to leave, she was extremely happy. Little did she think about leaving behind an empty chair, an empty bed and an empty place in her mother's breaking heart.

As a Postulant, Mary was asked, in addition to other tasks, to take charge of the big kitchen while Sister Myra Shanahan was away. Before leaving, Sister Myra had requested the purchase of bananas; so Mary followed through on this directive. She asked the secretary for the phone number of the grocer and proceeded to call in the banana order. The voice on the other end of the line hesitated, and then told Mary that she must have the wrong number. She had mistakenly dialed the morgue! No one ever knew all that Mary had gone through to get the bananas on the table that day. After many such experiences, Mary welcomed Sister Myra's return, and the kitchen was again back to normal.

Mary entered the Novitiate on Jan. 2, 1932, receiving the name Mary Zachary. In the early days of her Novitiate, crippling rheumatism made her a semi-invalid, so much so that it was recommended by the community doctor that she return home. However, through the intercession of her dear cousin, Sister Myra, she was permitted to remain in Monroe. As time went on, her fear of being sent home became very real due to the fact that her family came to visit so often. One Sunday 2

Sister Mary Zachary heard from the Sister Portress that she had company. It was her family again! She breathed a sigh of relief when she was informed that her family brought with them visitors from Ireland. However, Sister Mary Zachary soon discovered that the "Irish" visitors were aunts and uncles who had indeed come from Ireland, but more that 15 years ago.

During the last six months of Sister Mary Zachary's first year Novitiate, she taught at the Hall of the Divine Child. She was a relief sister for the Directress. Here she had a sampling of every grade from first through tenth. She was more or less a "day hop" as she called it, since she went back to the Novitiate every night.

In September 1933, Sister Mary Zachary was sent to St. Joseph in Erie, Mich., where she readied herself for first Profession by teaching third graders. When she came home at Christmas to enter retreat for Profession, she didn't realize that she would never see her little farmers again. Sister Antonine and she exchanged places, sending Sister Mary Zachary to St. Felicitas in Chicago, Ill. This was quite a change for her, leaving 30 docile little farmer children for 60 "sophisticated Chicagoans" as she put it. She was just settling in at this new school when, after two months, she was rushed to the hospital in Toledo for an appendectomy.

In 1934, Sister Mary Zachary went back to the Hall where she spent two exciting years teaching the boys and helping in the cafeteria.

For the next 16 years, Sister Mary Zachary taught grades six through ten. Happy were her years at St. Charles, Newport, and St. Mary, Wayne, Mich. Her charges expanded at St. Catherine in Detroit to include the Chapel and the kitchen where, during the war years, "trying to buy food for 30 sisters," she told us, "with a meager supply of tokens was quite a chore." At St. Gregory, Detroit, her days "were pregnant with enthusiasm," she told us, "teaching Catechism on Saturdays at Our Lady of Victory, taking Sodality to St. Patrick for West Side demonstrations, and moving from old convent to new."

Under Sister Mary Zachary's guidance, St. Patrick, Carleton, became famous for plays, programs and trophies. "Our big event of the year," she wrote, "was when our sisters from the Motherhouse in Monroe came for an outing. Affholters' horse and buggy were always the big attraction."

Sister Mary Zachary moved as Principal of Holy Cross Grade School in Marine City to St. Boniface, Detroit, "God's Skid Row," as she called it. The Gold Ball Stamp Drive put 410 new desks in the school. There was celebration the day that the cafeteria opened and as the parishioners witnessed the joining of St. Boniface and St. Vincent Schools. St. Patrick Day programs were popular with the mixture of races, and finally, the drive of "Little Puerto" helping "Big Puerto" which sent over $2,000 to Cayey for a center to keep the poor off the streets.

"God's work must be done among the rich as well as among the poor," wrote Sister Mary Zachary. And so it was that she found herself doing her best to mother God's poor little rich girls at St. Mary Academy in Monroe, Mich. Being Directress of ninth and tenth grade girls for three years was not an easy job.

"Taking charge" was now Sister Mary Zachary's forte. From Directress at the Academy to superior at Holy Redeemer in Detroit, Mich.; to organizer of summer classes at St. Patrick Cathedral, Detroit and at parishes in Davison; to coordinator of substitute teachers at St. Joseph in Trenton; to secretary at St. Vincent School in Detroit; and finally, back to St. Joseph, Trenton where she became Pastoral Minister for 17 rewarding years.

When, in the late 90s, it was deemed necessary to close the convent at St. Joseph, the sisters donated seven entire rooms of furniture to a home for battered women. And so, Sister Mary Zachary, together with her life-long friend, Sister Agnes Schulte, moved to Bristol Hills Apartments to be near her ailing sister, Betty. 3

After five years, tragedies began to strike. Sister Mary Zachary's sister, Rita, who lived in Florida, was in a serious car accident and died as a result of her injuries. Four weeks later, her sister, Betty, suffered a stroke and died. Then her close companion, Agnes Schulte, was taken to the hospital. During these very difficult times, it was decided that the sisters should come "home" to the Motherhouse. So, on Aug. 14, 2000, Sisters Agnes Schulte and Mary Zachary were given an overwhelming reception by the Monroe sisters as well as the staff! It was good to be back "Home" to get reacquainted and to make new friends.

Sr. Mary Zachary has spent her last seven years in the Health Care Center where poor health did not permit her to "take charge" or "run the show." In her quiet, beautiful, gracious manner she prayed, welcomed visitors and continued to enjoy the presence of her life-long companion, Agnes Schulte. She loved her "home" and all the sisters. Together she and Agnes sent a birthday card every year to each sister at the Motherhouse to help make that day special.

In May of this year, Sister Mary Zachary, along with four classmates, celebrated her 75th Jubilee. How she enjoyed this day with sisters, family and friends.

During the many years of surprises and changes in Sister Mary Zachary's life, her brothers' and sisters' families were sharing their own lives. Her sister, Agnes, and her husband, Fred, had four beautiful children; her brother, Tom, and his wife, Ann, gave the world Deacon Dan in addition to another brother and sister; her sister, Rita, and her husband, John raised two children; her brother Jim and his wife, Eleanor, raised three children; and her sister, Betty, and her husband, Joe, had three wonderful boys. Over the years, Sister Mary Zachary talked a great deal about her large extended family, showing how extremely proud she was of all their accomplishments.

We, too, are proud of you, Sister Mary Zachary Hurley, and we thank you for your gifts.

"May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be ever on your back. May the sun shine upon you and may the rains fall gently on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand."

Written by Mrs. Carolyn Spillson and Sister Antoinette Ruedisueli, IHM

Sept. 25, 2007


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  • Created by: Vern H.
  • Added: 30 Sep 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21842509
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sr Mary Zachary Hurley (8 Nov 1912–19 Sep 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21842509, citing Saint Joseph Cemetery, Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Vern H. (contributor 46798651) .