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Sr. Ethel Fitzpatrick | Educator, 88

Sister Ethel Fitzpatrick, 88, an educator in Philadelphia schools for 28 years, died of heart failure Wednesday at Holy Child Center, a retirement residence of the Sisters of the Holy Child in Rosemont.

Sister Ethel, who was also known by her religious name, Mother Mary Ethelburg, entered the convent in 1938 after graduating from West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Girls. She earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Villanova University and a master's degree in religious education from Fordham University in New York City.

She taught at St. Leonard's Academy, Assumption School and St. Edward's School in Philadelphia, and then was principal of St. Lucy's School in Philadelphia for two years. In 1966 she returned to her alma mater, West Catholic, as a religion teacher. She also chaired the school's religion department until 1979.

In recent years, when other nuns would brag about their high schools, she always said, "West is Best," a friend, Sister Mary George O'Reilly, said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Sister Ethel was director of religious education at St. Rose of Lima Church in Philadelphia and was health care administrator for the Sisters of the Holy Child. She retired in 1996.

She took a warm interest in everyone, Sister Mary George said, and inspired several of her former students to enter the convent.

Sister Ethel is survived by sisters Margaret McKenzie and Theresa Cornwell, and nieces and nephews.

A Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday in New Sharon Chapel, 1314 Montgomery Ave., Rosemont. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken.