Sister Marie Suzanne Friel, 86, a teacher and a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy for many years, died Thursday, Dec. 4, of atherosclerosis at McAuley Convent in Merion.

Born Margaret Mary Friel, she was the daughter of Irish immigrants. She was given a new name upon reception into the religious order.

Sister Marie Suzanne graduated from John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1947. Later, she earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in secondary education counseling from Villanova University.

In 1950, she began a long career teaching in elementary and secondary schools in local parishes, including Holy Cross in Springfield, St. Helena in Blue Bell, St. Margaret in Narberth, and St. Denis in Havertown.

She left town to teach at St. Alice School in Springfield, Ore., and returned to the Philadelphia area to teach at St. Joseph School in Sea Isle City, N.J. She served as the principal at Presentation School in Penn Wynne from 1961 to 1967.

Sister Marie Suzanne taught Latin at Prendergast High School and was prefect of discipline at Bishop McDevitt High School before taking a different direction. From 1975 to 1983, Sister Marie Suzanne was the guidance director at Gwynedd-Mercy College, now a university.

In 1983, she became the first director of personal development for the Sisters of Mercy of Merion. In that role, she arranged for sisters to learn about the order's identity and history. She also found ways to help them delve into justice and holistic health issues, and to assist them in arranging sabbaticals, at the time a new development for nuns.

In 1992, after taking her own sabbatical, Sister Marie Suzanne took on another new challenge, this one in health care. She became coordinator of patient relations at Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia. She remained in that post for a decade, then stayed on as a volunteer. She retired from Mercy Hospital in 2013. In March 2014, she retired to McAuley Convent, where she engaged in prayer. She was a devoted Phillies fan and often watched baseball games. She was a lively companion. "She sang and danced to Irish music, and enjoyed a good cup of tea. Her Irish wit added a bit of humor to many conversations," said colleague Sister Patricia Carroll.

She is survived by a brother, and nieces and nephews.

Services were Monday, Dec. 8. Burial was Tuesday, Dec. 9, in the Community Cemetery at Convent of Mercy, Merion.

Contributions may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community, 515 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, Pa. 19066.

bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102