Sister Mary Mercita Pipp, 94, died on January 2, 2019, at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls, Minn.
Frieda Alberta Pipp was born on February 25, 1924, in Draschitz, Austria. She was the only child of the late Urban and Mary (Tschurwald) Pipp. Frieda moved to the United States in 1940 and settled with family in Milwaukee, Wis. She attended Mercy High School and graduated in 1942.
She became acquainted with the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls while working at St. Anthony’s Hospital. She was especially close to Sister Magdalene Goldin. She was accepted as a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, on August 12, 1943, and was given the name, Sister Mary Mercita. She was a Franciscan Sister for 75 years, celebrating her 75th anniversary on June 24, 2018.
Sister Mercita obtained her RN at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, Breckenridge. In 1959 she earned a BS in nursing, and in 1968, a Master’s degree in nursing administration, both from Marquette University. She did further studies in administration at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She also was a certified Reiki Master.
In her ministry as an RN, Sister Mercita was a staff nurse, nursing supervisor, director of nursing and instructor. She also served in administration with her final health position being Vice President of Trinity Memorial Hospital in Cudahy, Wis. In the United States she served in Breckenridge, Perham and Moorhead, Minn.; Milwaukee, Cudahy and South Milwaukee, Wis. These health care ministries covered the years 1948–1966 and 1978–1983. In addition, she served as an Assistant Minister on the Community Board of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls from 1980–1984.
However, in the interim, in 1967 Sister Mercita went to Cartagena, Colombia, South America as a member of Project HOPE. This was perhaps the most significant and satisfying experience of her long career in health care. She said, “Its (Project HOPE’s) philosophy reflected mine—people distinguished by giving themselves through performance and achievement who share the common interest of supporting the highest ideals, traditions and purposes.” She saw each day as a challenge, an adventure, a learning experience and a fulfillment. She made many lifelong friends during those years including Archbishop Ruben Isaza, with whom she made many trips, including one to Rome and Assisi. Her time with Project HOPE was primarily in Cartagena, Colombia, but she also spent time in Venezuela and Brazil.
After retiring from active health care ministry, Sister Mercita returned to Marquette and took courses in parish nursing and grief counseling. She became very involved in pastoral ministry and parish nursing, and was on the staff of St. Stephen’s Congregation in Milwaukee for several years. She was also a Spiritual Companion for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She loved those years and found it difficult to leave Milwaukee where she spent most of her life.
Sister Mercita was a dedicated professional woman of many talents. Her favorite pastimes were listening to good music, reading and enjoying friendships.
Sister Mercita’s many talents were well documented: she was listed in the 1st Edition of WHO’S WHO Among Contemporary Nurses, 1984; she received a Citation by the Board of Supervisors of Milwaukee County in 1993, she was a Fellow and Diplomat of the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists, and in 2007, was named to Project HOPE’s Hall of Fame.
Survivors include her godchild, Tanya Fondino; cousins, friends and her Franciscan Community.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on January 5, 2019, at St. Francis Convent.