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(Courtesy photo)

Mercy High School, San Francisco, Class of 1956 on the first day of school in the fall of 1952.

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Mercy, SF’s first graduates ‘proud, grateful’ women
April 26th, 2016
By Tom Burke

Mercy High School, San Francisco, “Where young women prepare to make a difference in the world,” graduated its first class, dubbed “the Pioneers,” in 1956. The women gather for a 60th reunion Sept. 17. I had the pleasure to speak via email with two members of the class, Patricia McNally Keller and Anne Marra Doran.

Patricia McNally Keller:
Being the Mercy Pioneers was very important then and it is a distinction that no other class will ever have, Pat said. The Pioneers even now are a close group of women who have gone through life with hills and valleys in the road but we always knew we had each other.

The Sisters of Mercy made sure we were ready for the world through our education and our faith. They endeavored to give us all an education that we have used all our lives (and still are using). We are the first group of women who didn’t have to be nurses, we could be doctors (and some are) and we didn’t have to be secretaries we could be lawyers. We were a very lucky generation that knew the world was ours if we worked for it!

I learned to persevere through good times and bad, and the power of prayer. The world was not all roses but most of the Pioneers have made a lasting footprint in the world. Thanks to my education at Mercy I was lucky enough to work in the sports medicine field. I enjoyed my professional life very much. I have learned with retirement there is still a world out there if you go out and find it. I have enjoyed working as a volunteer at the local hospitals wherever I have lived.

We are coming full circle: We have lost a number of our classmates and all know that we won’t be here forever, but we are going to have a good time as long as we can. Thank you Mercy for all you have done for us.

Anne Marra Doran:
When I walked into Mercy in 1952, little did I realize I was beginning a journey that would last a lifetime, Anne said. The school was new, not even completed. We were a small group of girls who grew up in four years to become young women. We were the top class all four years which helped us immensely with leadership skills. We named ourselves the Pioneer class. Being educated by the Sisters of Mercy made a big impact on my life. And attending Mercy helped form a strong faith that is with me to this day. In my senior year I took business classes which unknowingly paved the way for my career. After a year of college, married life beckoned. Four children arrived very quickly and I was a stay-at-home mom. I ultimately worked as administrative assistant in the South San Francisco Unified School District. The hours were flexible (I had many summers off) which allowed me to spend time with my children. I like to think that the woman I became from my Mercy years played a big part in how my children turned out. I look at my 11 grandchildren and am so pleased at the way they were raised. I have somehow taken on the role of communicator for the Pioneers. I keep my classmates advised of the happenings in our special group. I have formed lifelong friendships – all because I decided to attend Mercy those many years ago. I am grateful to the Sisters of Mercy for giving me such a well-balanced life and am proud to be a member of Mercy’s first graduating class.

CATHEDRAL ANNIVERSARY: It will be a grand night May 6, for St. Mary’s Cathedral 45th Anniversary Gala in the cathedral’s lower halls. The evening begins with evening prayer in the main church led by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. Event includes dinner, music and a special appearance by Franc D’Ambrosio, renowned singing star of “Phantom of the Opera,” and remembered for his performances at anniversary celebrations of the Porziuncola Nuova in North Beach. The cathedral’s lower halls are major meeting places for Northern California events including workshops, meetings, dinners and awards ceremonies. In addition, the cathedral, designated by the Red Cross and San Francisco, is an official safety site in the case of disasters local and otherwise. The cathedral welcomed St. John Paul II in his historic visit to San Francisco in 1987 and has been the site of funeral Masses for bishops, clergy, and religious as well as the faithful. Father Alturo Albano is pastor. Proceeds will benefit upkeep and programs of the cathedral. Deacon Christoph Sandoval;

WHAT? The disclaimers on some commercials are so puzzling methinks. Like Weight Watchers’ “Join for free, purchase required.”

Email items and electronic pictures – jpegs at no less than 300 dpi to or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. My phone number is (415) 614-5634.

From April 28, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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