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Happy 90th birthday Jan. 5 to Mary Balestreri. Family and friends marked the occasion with the lady of honor at Original Joe’s of Westlake. Pictured from left around Mary are Harry Ewing, Josie Balestreri-Ewing, Pete Balestreri, and Kathy Balestr

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Mercy Sister is 96 years old ‘looking forward to 100’
February 20th, 2017
By Tom Burke

A very happy 96th birthday Nov. 15 to Mercy Sister Mary Edith Hurley and thank you to Mercy Sisters’ communication manager Liz Dossa for these bright words about her.

On Nov. 15, Sister Mary Edith Hurley celebrated her 96th birthday. She grew up in San Francisco and attended St. Peter’s Academy in the Mission District. “In school, I observed the joy and work of the sisters and felt drawn to join them,” she said. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame and has now been in the Mercy Community 78 years.

In love with all things Irish, she was attracted to a community founded by Dublin-born Catherine McAuley and brought to San Francisco by sisters from Kinsale, County Cork, from which her parents had immigrated.

Sister Edith taught in elementary schools in the Bay Area and Southern California from 1942 to 1984. The local schools were Holy Name, St. Gabriel, St. Stephen, and St. Peter.

Part way through her teaching career Sister Edith took a sabbatical in Sydney, Australia and fell in love with the country and the Sisters of Mercy Community there. She worked as secretary and treasurer of Marymount Mercy Centre, a spiritual center run by the Sisters of Mercy. “I loved the spirit of it all and the people there,” she said looking back. “Those were some of my best moments.”

She returned to San Francisco and Holy Name of Jesus School in 1990 where she taught computer science until retiring in 2000. She continued to volunteer at the school until 2005.

Sister has always kept up her Irish connections. When she was teen, she took Irish dancing at the just opened Healy School of Irish Dancing in San Francisco. Long a member of the Rebel Cork Ladies Association, Sister recently welcomed her RCLA friends to tea at the Mercy Sisters’ Marian Oaks Life Care Center in thanks for the ladies’ donation of tea cups and a tea pot to Marian Oaks. Sister Edith rides with the RCLA on their float in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. She invented and organizes the indoor Hurley Ladies’ Golf tournament at Marian Oaks and won it last year. All the contestants are Hurleys or married to a Hurley. “I’m now looking forward to being 100,” Sister Edith said.

DON’T MISS IT: Though I never even come close to living it, I love Lent. For me it is kind of 40 days in second gear. It is slow and powerful with reminders of what it heralds all around. Remember to keep in touch with Calendar in Catholic San Francisco as well as the website of the Archdiocese of San Francisco for opportunities to experience Lent. I have found too that if I just keep my eyes open, I’ll bump into Lent.

AMEN: Thanks to Holy Ghost Father Brendan Hally, parochial vicar, St. Dunstan Parish, Millbrae, for this recent homily reminder: “None of us is perfect. None of us can avoid seeking the mercy of God.”

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 February 23, 2017 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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