By Zandy Dudiak, Communications coordinator
A year after the event was first scheduled to take place, Carlow University finally honored Sister Susan Welsh, RSM, retired president and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy, as a Woman of Spirit in a virtual ceremony on April 21.
The ceremony to honor Carlow’s 2020 Women of Spirit was originally scheduled for April 2, 2020. But as with so many plans last year, the pandemic shut down any gatherings as COVID-19 began raging across the country and world.
This year, the “normal” ceremony of a dinner and in-person presentation was replaced by a Zoom champagne reception for awardees, followed by a previously recorded awards presentation of the 2020-2021 honorees, emceed by retired WTAE-TV news anchor Sally Wiggin.
Sister Susan serves on the board of directors of Carlow University. She is also a founding and current member of the McAuley Ministries board, and previously served as chair.
After the introduction, Sister Susan, who lead Pittsburgh Mercy from 2008 until 2019, explained that initially she did not want to accept the award when asked by Dr. Suzanne Mellon, Carlow’s president. But Sister Susan eventually changed her mind.
“I thought about the first seven Sisters of Mercy who arrived in Pittsburgh from Carlow, Ireland in 1843,” Sister Susan said. “They immediately began walking the streets of the City of Pittsburgh to address the needs of people—housing, food, and a listening ear.”
She noted how the Sisters founded Mercy Hospital four years later and then, during the Great Depression, founded Mt. Mercy College, now Carlow University. In 2008, when the Sisters sold Mercy Hospital to UPMC, they took the proceeds to create McAuley Ministries Foundation.
Michelle Rone Cooper, retired executive director of McAuley Ministries, and Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, former Carlow president, delivered congratulatory messages via video to Sister Susan, citing her serving as a “compassionate advocate for the community” and how she is “always willing any and every way to foster Carlow’s mission.”
In accepting the award, Sister Susan quoted Mr. Rogers, who said that mentoring is “tending the soil.”
“The Sisters of Mercy have done an incredible job in the City of Pittsburgh tending the soil,” Sister Susan said. “So not for myself, but for every Sister of Mercy, living or deceased, I accept the honor of being a Woman of Spirit.