Sister Joan Buckley began playing the piano at the age of six. Today, at the age of 85, she continues to play the organ at daily mass at McAuley Convent in Merion, PA, the retirement center where she lives with 48 other Sisters of Mercy.
Her love of religious life and church music began at the Academy of the Sisters of Mercy (now known as Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School) where she was awarded a music scholarship and was first taught by the Sisters of Mercy. She entered the convent in September 1947 after her high school graduation.
“I am grateful to have lived for 68 years in community with other Sisters of Mercy and had the chance to pray and reflect together,” says Sister Joan. Now she lives in a memory care unit within McAuley Convent designed for the needs of sisters with dementia.
Sister Joan still lives a life of prayer and service. (The Sisters of Mercy take a fourth vow of service.) She serves her Community by providing church music for liturgies and prayers services for the retired sisters where she lives.
While in active ministry, Sister Joan taught elementary school for nine years and high school Math and Latin for 13 years. She also served in community leadership for 15 years and new membership for nine years. The last 11 years of her active ministry, Sister Joan worked as a music director at local parishes and schools in the Philadelphia area.
“I appreciate the many opportunities given to me by the Sisters of Mercy, especially the chance to teach, to learn (She received a bachelor’s degree in church music and math and a master’s degree in spirituality.) and to share my musical gifts.
“I thank God every day for my life as a Sister of Mercy,” says Sister Joan. “I also thank God that I am Catholic; I have a loving family; and I live in a caring community at McAuley Convent . “
Sister Joan Buckley, RSM, is one of more than 9,000 Sisters of Mercy around the world. The Sisters of Mercy are Roman Catholic women of faith who commit their lives and resources to serve, advocate, pray, and bring compassion and mercy to those in need. In the words of their founder Catherine McAuley, they have an “ardent desire to be united to God and serve those who are poor.”