Mercy Independence Celebrates the Life of Sr. Carmel Heffern

February 10, 2015


Sr. Mary Carmel Heffern, RSM

Those of us who had the privilege to know and serve with Sr. Carmel Heffern   remember the true spirit of joy she exuded as she made her rounds in the hospital.  

Though she was small in stature (and seemed to shrink smaller every day), Sr. Carmel left a large impression on those she encountered. Though she spoke in a frail voice, her words were eloquent,truthful and powerful. Though she was aging, in her presence, time seemed to stand still. It was as if God was compelling us to savor and appreciate every interaction with Sr. Carmel because there was a lesson to be learned about gentility, service and reverence for our fellow man, woman and child.


Sr. Carmel devoted her entire life to others in the service of God. She once said, “I meet God in unexpected places, sometimes in one of the co-workers, sometimes at the Maternal and Infant Clinic, and sometimes in the cancer unit…The Jesus in me hears the Jesus in the patient.”


We met God each time we met Sr. Carmel. And though physically she’s been gone from our community for a few years and now from this world, her legacy has helped shaped the culture of Mercy Independence, and we are all the better for having known her.


Obituary of Sr. Mary Carmel Heffern     

Sister Mary Carmel Heffern, Religious Sister of Mercy formerly of Independence, died Sunday at Catherine’s Residence in St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of 97.


A local memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Empson Conference Center, located on the lower level of Mercy Clinic, 800 W. Laurel, Independence. Father Drew Heiman of St. Andrew Catholic Church will lead the service.


A remembrance service also is scheduled Friday at 4 p.m. at Mercy Center Chapel, 2039 North Geyer Road, St. Louis, followed by Eucharistic Liturgy at 6 p.m. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.


Memorials are suggested to the Sisters of Mercy Fund for the Materially Poor and may be sent to 2521 Brookside Drive, Independence, KS 67301.


Sr. Carmel was born September 30, 1917,in Piqua, Kansas.


She entered the Sisters of Mercy Community on September 7, 1938, and professed final vows in 1944.


She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Fontbonne College in St. Louis in 1949 and a certificate in medical technology from Mercy Hospital in Vicksburg, Mississippi., in 1950.


Sr. Carmel taught at schools in Gillespie, Illinois;    Edinburg, Goliad and Refugio, Texas. She also served as the lab and X-ray supervisor at Mercy Hospitals in Hutchinson, Fredonia, Fort Scott, and Slaton, Texas. She later served in pastoral care at Mercy Hospitals in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Independence, Kansas, and also served in parish ministry in Caruthersville,   Missouri, for nine years.


She is survived by two brothers, Father Coleman and Charles Heffern; a sister, Joann Massoth, and several nieces and nephews.