Sister Eileen Marie Sheehan, 86, a longtime elementary schoolteacher, died Monday, Dec. 8, of coronary artery disease at McAuley Convent in Merion.

The youngest of nine children, Sister Eileen Marie attended St. Francis de Sales School and West Catholic High School for Girls. After graduating in 1946, she entered the Sisters of Mercy, and professed her vows in 1949.

She spent 30 years in elementary education within the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Her assignments included stints at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, both in Philadelphia; St. Matthias in Bala Cynwyd; St. Denis in Havertown, and Holy Martyrs, in Oreland.

She also spent six years at St. John the Apostle School in Hialeah, Fla., before returning to the Philadelphia area in 1971. Sister Eileen Marie joined the faculty at Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, where she taught religion for eight years.

She earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Villanova University in 1960, and a master's degree in religious studies in 1976 from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

In 1979, Sister Eileen Marie left teaching due to health issues. She was hired to do pastoral ministry at Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia. In the five years she spent there, Sister Eileen Marie could see that the elderly and infirm needed special, compassionate care, so she devoted the rest of her life to that goal.

In 1984, Catholic Social Services appointed her to work in spiritual ministry in nursing homes, and in 1992 she was appointed spiritual coordinator at Fair Acres Center, in Lima, Delaware County.

In 1998, Sister Eileen Marie was appointed a patient advocate at Mercy Community Hospital. She continued in that role until the hospital closed in 2002. Her final task for the next decade was to visit the sick in the parishes of St. Justin Martyr in Narberth and St. John Baptist Vianney in Gladwyne.

Sister Eileen Marie retired to McAuley Convent in 2012. She prayed, received visitors, and enjoyed watching Phillies games on TV.

She is survived by nieces and nephews.

Services were Friday, Dec. 12.

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

bcook@phillynews.com

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