Pioneering nun to speak

April 28, 2016 | 9:04 AM

MacMurray College will hold its 165th Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7 at the Annie Merner Chapel on campus.

The keynote speaker will be Sister Rosemary Connelly, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, who is the executive director of Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago, a residential care center for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Sister Connelly has a long and illustrious career helping the people she serves. She will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Social Work by the College.

In addition, MacMurray will award an honorary Doctor of Public Service to Francis Kateh, a 1991 graduate of MacMurray and the deputy minister for Health Services, chief medical officer for his native Republic of Liberia.

The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, if tickets are available. To reserve a ticket, call 217-479-7027 or email Those reserving tickets will get confirmation on Friday, May 6 on whether there is space available.


Sister Rosemary Connelly

When Sister Connelly arrived in 1969 at Misericordia Heart of Mercy, the group home had 36 children and 39 staff members on the city’s south side. Now 600 children and adults receive care at Misericordia’s 31-acre campus in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, and more than 400 people are on its waiting list.

Until 1975, Illinois provided disabled people only custodial care, with no educational or therapeutic programs. Misericordia and Sister Connelly are widely recognized as helping to change the standard of care to a full range of therapies and social, recreational, and occupational opportunities.

She has lead Misericordia with a “kind smile and an iron will,” according to Chicago magazine in a story naming her a 2014 Chicagoan of the Year. Her drive and steadfast leadership has helped make Misericordia a model for the comprehensive care that allows those with developmental disabilities the chance for fulfilled, meaningful and independent lives with opportunities for spiritual growth.

Sister Connelly received her bachelor’s in social science and a master’s in sociology from St. Louis University and her master’s in social work from Loyola University in Chicago, completing the last degree the year she took the helm at Misericordia.

Dr. Francis Kateh

Dr. Kateh, who majored in biology while at MacMurray, has held a variety of medical and health care administrator positions in the United States and Liberia. After completing his medical training, he returned to Liberia during the middle of the First Liberian Civil War, where his efforts helped ease the suffering of the victims of that conflict, despite grave danger to himself.

After more training and work in the United States, Dr. Kateh returned again to Liberia to help rebuild the health care system. With the outbreak in West Africa of the Ebola virus, Dr. Kateh was appointed the Liberian Deputy Incident Manager for Medical Response/Planning to combat the epidemic that eventually saw more than 10,000 cases and 4,000 deaths in Liberia.

He volunteered to take a trial Ebola vaccine, again at risk to his own safety, hoping it would encourage others in the epidemic zone to follow his example. The strategies he developed to fight Ebola in Liberia were hailed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as being the most effective and efficient.

See schedule of Commencement Weekend.

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