EAST ORLAND — Marie Therese Ahern, RSM, Sister Mary William of East Orland, died unexpectedly Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, following surgery at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Marie was born in South Boston to the late William and Elizabeth (McCarthy) Ahern.
She grew up in Unionville, Conn., graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy and attended St. Joseph College. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Diocesan Teachers College, Madison, Conn., and her Master of Arts degree in history from St. Joseph College, now University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, Conn. Marie entered the Sisters of Mercy Sept. 8, 1956, was professed on Jan. 28, 1959, and made her perpetual vows June 28, 1962. Her vow of service to the poor, the sick and uneducated led her first to teaching at St. Margaret School, Waterbury, Conn.; St. Patrick School, Thompsonville, Conn.; Holy Trinity School, Wallingford, Conn,; St. Mary School, New Britain, Conn.; and also at South Catholic High School, Hartford, Conn., both in 1964 and again from 1969 to 1973. From there she moved to Provincetown, Mass., until 1976 to do parish ministry at St. Peter Parish. She also became very involved in local environmental issues. Her teaching then resumed at Mount St. Joseph Academy in West Hartford, Conn. During this time, a summer vacation trip up Route 1 in Maine led her to discover HOME, where she has devoted herself for the last 35 years to the poor and marginalized. HOME, a member of Emmaus International, in addition to direct charity, aims to develop skills among the people, to build community and to work to change the systems that oppress people. Marie first directed the Learning Center, then coordinated the construction of numerous homes for the poor through the Covenant Community Land Trust and presently had the oversight of five shelters. Marie, an extraordinary gifted woman with Gospel values, was love in action and found joy in her work and inspiration from those she served.
Marie is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Donald Olivieri of Old Saybrook, Conn.; her brother and sister-in-law, William and Elaine Ahern of Farmington; nieces and nephews, Stephen, Michael and Mark Olivieri, Donna Staples, Mary K. Olivieri, Mark and Marie Ahern, and their families; her Mercy community; her Mandala Farm community; her HOME family and many friends including Carol Eggers and the HOME volunteers. She was predeceased by her brother, Timothy Ahern; and her nephew, Brian Ahern.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, at the Connor Chapel of The University of St. Joseph, 1678 Asylum Ave., West Hartford, Conn. Calling hours will be 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of St. Mary Home, 2021 Albany Ave., West Hartford. The Sheehan Hilborn Breen Funeral Home, 1084 New Britain Ave., West Hartford has care of the arrangements. A memorial service will also be held noon Sunday, Feb. 3, at Orland Methodist Church near HOME. Burial will be May 25, 2013, in Maine. Memorial contributions may be made to HOME Inc., P.O. Box 10, Orland, ME 04472 or Sisters of Mercy, 55 East Cedar St., Newington, CT 06111-1103. Online condolences may be made at www.sheehanhilbornbreen.com.