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Sr. Ellen Cavanaugh, RSM

Obituary for Sr. Ellen Cavanaugh, RSM

August 26, 2019
Merion Station, Pennsylvania

Beloved Sister and Aunt


Sister Ellen Cavanaugh, RSM, age 89, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic died suddenly on August 26, 2019, at McAuley Convent in Merion, Pennsylvania.

After teaching elementary school at St. Denis School in Havertown, Sister Ellen served as principal of St. Barbara Day school for special needs students in Philadelphia. Next she ministered in several roles in the formation of young sisters including director of vocations and pre-entrance program. In 1977, Sister Ellen became the first director of Mercy Volunteer Corps, a position she held for ten years. She later became executive director of the Catholic Network for Volunteer Services in Washington DC.

Sister Ellen was known locally and internationally for her ministry in volunteer services. Pope John Paul II awarded her the Pontifical Honor of the Cross and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia awarded her the Saints John Neumann and Katharine Drexel Award for this innovative work. A gracious spirit, gentle and welcoming to all, Sister Ellen was humble and unassuming. Her legacy lives on in her family, community and all those whose lives she touched.

She is pre-deceased by her parents Thomas and Bridget, her brothers Thomas and (Rev.) Daniel, and sisters Mary (Bradley), Elizabeth (Kelly), Ursula (Tomany) and Theresa (Glenn). In addition to her religious community, S. Ellen is survived by her sister, Pat (Hickey-Breen), many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to a Visitation Friday, August 30, 6:00 - 7:00 pm followed by a Funeral Mass at 7:00 pm in the Chapel at the Convent of Mercy, 515 Montgomery Avenue, Merion Station, PA 19066. Burial in the community cemetery will be Saturday, August 31, 10 am.

Contributions in Sister's memory may be sent to the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community at the above address.

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