Former Head of Mercy Sisters Is Dead at 84

Sister Virginia
Sister Virginia

Sister Virginia Marie Farnan, R.S.M., a member of the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community and a Mercy Sister for 67 years, died Jan. 23 at McAuley Health Center, Watchung, N.J., at the age of 84. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Jan. 27 at the Sisters of Mercy Convent, Whitestone.

Formerly known as Sister Mary Lucia, she was widely known and greatly respected as an educator, a talented artist and a creative and innovative leader.

A graduate of Holy Innocents School, Flatbush, and Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset, L.I., she entered the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate in 1947 and made her final vows in 1953.

She taught at St. Patrick, Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, 1950-52; St. Brigid, Bushwick, 1952-58; Bishop McDonnell M.H.S., Crown Heights, 1958-67; and Mercy H.S., Riverhead, L.I., 1967-68.

She was principal of Holy Rosary, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1968-72. She worked at the Convent of Mercy as director of ministry, 1972-76, and was then elected Superior General of the Brooklyn Community for eight years.

As president of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, she led with wisdom and courage as she did as president of the Sisters’ Senate.

After leaving her leadership position, she worked tirelessly for child welfare at MercyFirst in Brooklyn and for the N.Y.C. Child Welfare Administration until her illness.

“As a high school girl, Virginia was good at just about everything and loved by just about everyone,” recalled Sister Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M.

“As a teaching Sister of Mercy, especially in Bishop McDonnell H.S., her art classes were filled and her students adored her.

“Our Virginia Farnan was a leader, a woman of justice, an inspiration.”

Sister Doris Gottemoeller, Mercy Institute’s first president, said: “I have wonderful memories of working with Virginia in our Mercy Federation and ‘Mercy Futures’ days. She was always positive and enthusiastic, a lovely woman indeed. Our ranks in heaven are growing!”

She is survived by her brother William of San Francisco.

Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush.

Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush.

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