Sr. Julia Mary Madden, RSM, a skilled nurse practitioner, nursing supervisor and a Sister of Mercy for 61 years, died peacefully on Jan. 18, 2019, at Huron Woods, Ann Arbor, Michigan, surrounded by Sisters and loving staff.
Her life began at Ballyporeen, Tipperary, Ireland, on Sept. 28, 1927. Her parents, Julia (Kenneally) and Michael Madden, named her Brigid Patricia. She was a sister to Mary and John and was later joined by Eileen before the family immigrated to Canada. David and Sheila, born in Canada, completed the family.
A farming family, they settled in rural Saskatchewan and ten years later moved to Kelwood, Manitoba. Brigid finished high school in Kelwood and qualified as a teacher. She taught for 4 1/2 years before deciding to become a nurse. She graduated with an RN degree from Toronto Western School of Nursing in 1956. It was there that she experienced her true calling - to spend her life caring for the sick. She then looked for a community of women religious who were engaged in healthcare and applied to become a Sister of Mercy.
She joined the Community in Detroit on Sept. 7, 1957. She was 10-plus years older than most of her novitiate companions, yet she willingly entered with them into a new way of life, receiving a new name - Julia Mary. She made profession of perpetual vows on Aug. 16, 1965.
Sister Julia Mary's lifelong ministry as a Sister of Mercy in healthcare began in Ann Arbor. It carried her to Manistee and then to Detroit where she served for 20 years at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital. During those years, she further developed her nursing skills by earning a master's degree in nursing from Wayne State University; by becoming a Nurse Clinician and by completing a course at Emory University in Atlanta to become a certified nurse practitioner in adult health.
By 1986, Sister Julia Mary was ready for personal renewal. She spent a year at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Her next several years were given to clinical nursing at McAuley Center, at Botsford Community Hospital in Farmington Hills and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Her last ministry prior to retirement was at North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City, Iowa, where she was engaged in caring for the elderly. By 2012, it was time for Julia Mary to retire and she came to McAuley Center where she continued her lifelong attention to those in need with little regard for her own.
Sister Julia Mary is fondly remembered in a myriad of ways. She was a delightful dedicated companion, an outstanding clinical nurse, an excellent Irish step-dancer, a compassionate observer, a witty conversationalist, and a woman proud of her Irish heritage. Several commendations of her ministry at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital were found among her papers. One doctor wrote, "In addition to our delight in having a Sister see our patients, of course, she is a most delightful person to work with." Another noted, "She carries out her duties in an extraordinarily caring measure which is easily picked up and accepted by her patients...she cares for people rather than power."
Her gracious and kindly energy was fostered by her prayer and reading. One of her reflections reads, "Kindness is more than deeds; it is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is everything that lifts another person." Another note reads, "Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
As her own health declined, she continued to be attentive to the needs of other patients, consoling and encouraging them as long as she was able. This was noted by their friends and relatives, many of whom stopped to pray at her bedside and thank her for her kindness.
She is survived by her sisters Eileen and Sheila (RNDM), by a niece and four nephews, and by her loving Mercy Community.
Welcome home was Thursday, Jan. 24. Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated Friday, Jan. 25 at McAuley Center, 28750 W. 11 Mile Road, Farmington Hills. Interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield.