100 Years Later, Mercy Legacy of Kindness Lives On

December 28, 2017

Thanks to a message from her granddaughter, we're happy to re-share this story. As a third grader at St. Mary's Parochial School in Ardmore, Okla., Margaret Ryan received blessings from the Sisters of Mercy in 1917.

Julie Williams Miller said her grandmother will celebrate her 109th birthday in May. Her story of unconditional love and acceptance continues to be a true demonstration and reflection of Christ's love.

Read Margaret's recent letter below.

Margaret Ryan, a third grader at St. Mary’s Parochial School in Ardmore, Okla., in 1917.

Margaret Ryan, a third grader at St. Mary’s Parochial School in Ardmore, Okla., in 1917.

Margaret Ryan’s 1917 Christmas Memory

On a certain Christmas Eve long, long ago when I was about 8 years old, I was not looking forward to Christmas morning.

These were troubling times.  Some fathers were still in Europe, left there after World War I. The great flu epidemic was raging and folks were worried about their families. The flu visited my family too. It carried away my mother and my mother’s sister a few weeks before Christmas.

So I spent the holidays in the Catholic convent along with other girls who couldn’t go home. As Christmas Eve drew near, I saw other girls saving boxes from home so they could open them Christmas morning. Mine were absent and I knew why.

We hung our stockings at the foot of our iron cots.  I thought that at the very least it could hold an orange and a candy bar. I said my prayers and went to sleep, waking often to hear whispering coming from the corner of the room where the Sisters of Mercy had their beds behind heavy drapes.

It was early in the morning when I awoke and found peeping from atop my stocking a gorgeous doll – all dressed in a pleated skirt, blouse, even a perky hat sewn by hand. I named her Gertrude.

Such a nice gift from people I did not know, to a girl whose name they did not know. No one could guess how the Christmas spirit moved them – except by love. There are so many places to show God’s love, if we but stay tuned to His will.

--Margaret Ryan