Sisters of Mercy mourn the loss of two

A former St. Mary’s Hospital president, Sister Marie Moore, passes away at 84, and Sister M. Placide Kilcoyne dies at 102

By Dan McWilliams

The funeral Mass for Sister Marie Moore, RSM, was held at her home parish of St. Albert the Great in Knoxville.

The Sisters of Mercy are in mourning for two of their own who recently passed away.

Sister Marie (Consilium) Moore, RSM, a former president of St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital in

Knoxville, died March 18 at Physicians Regional Medical Center, the former St. Mary’s Hospital. She was 84. Mercy Sister Mary Placide Kilcoyne, 102, died Feb. 26 at Mercy Convent in Nashville.

Sister Marie’s funeral Mass was held at her home parish of St. Albert the Great in Knoxville.

“Sister Marie is a very, very important part of the history of St. Albert the Great Parish, a very integral part,” said St. Albert pastor Father Chris Michelson, who presided at the Mass. “I think since Sister Marie joined our parish back in 2008, we’ve never had a funeral that she wasn’t present at, and of course you know she’s present here today. And she’ll be present at every funeral into the future here, as she brings and has shared her spirit so generously with all of us.”

Father Tony Budnick, Father John Dowling, Father Jim Haley, CSP, Father Tim Sullivan, CSP, Father Bill Gahagan, and Father Bill McKenzie concelebrated Sister Marie’s funeral Mass, with Deacon Jim Lawson and Deacon Mike Duncan assisting.

Marie Frances Moore was born in Nashville in 1933, the first child of Edgar and Elizabeth Moore, both nurses, who eventually had three boys and six girls. Young Marie attended elementary school in Davidson County and then the Cathedral Catholic High School in Nashville, where she met the Sisters of Mercy.

Sister Mary Placide Kilcoyne, RSM

On Sept. 8, 1951, Marie entered the Mercy community in Cincinnati. She learned to become a sister and a nurse at Edgecliff College and Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Ohio. Following her perpetual vows in 1957, as soon as she heard that she passed state boards, Sister Marie (then Sister Consilium) came to St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital in Knoxville.

She served as the medical units supervisor from 1957 to 1961, then left to get her masters degree in nursing at Boston College. When she returned, she taught in the St. Mary’s School of Nursing from 1963 to 1965 and became director of the school from 1965 to 1967. In 1967, Sister went to St. Rita’s Hospital in Lima, Ohio, as vice president for nursing for four years.

Sister Marie was named president of St. Mary’s Hospital in 1971. She served in that position until 1983, a period of extraordinary growth and transition as St. Mary’s dramatically expanded services and facilities.

During Sister Marie’s presidency, St. Mary’s Hospital was transformed from a hospital to a modern medical center with the completion of the Magdalen Clarke Tower, the addition of the central wing, construction of the Professional Office Building, and the creation of a new emergency-room entry. Many patient services were added: respiratory, the Short Procedure Unit (now One Day Surgery), the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Home Health, hospice, psychiatry, and an employee-assistance program.

Sister Marie initiated many community-service programs that provided continuing education and support, including the Arthritis Club, Pediatric Orientation, Preparing for Parenthood, the Stroke Club, elderly care programs, and smoking-cessation clinics.

Sister Marie was president as St. Mary’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1980.

In 1983, she was called to serve as regional councilor by the Sisters of Mercy, which required her move to Cincinnati. After seven years, she returned to health-care ministry in Chicago (1991-93), Lake Placid, N.Y. (1994-96), and Paducah, Ky. (1996-2008).

Finally in 2008, Sister Marie, at age 75, “retired” and returned to St. Mary’s (then Mercy Health Partners) as mission representative. Sister Marie visited and prayed with patients before surgery or cardiac procedures at Mercy St. Mary’s, Mercy North, Mercy West, LaFollette, Jefferson City, and the Residential Hospice.

In his homily at the funeral Mass, Father Michelson mentioned how Sister Marie served out her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“She is to do that by serving the poor, serving the sick, and serving the ignorant,” he said. “I was thinking about that last night. I was thinking that certainly Sister Marie served me so well for all these years and was such a great influence.

“I thought, well, I might be spiritually poor at times, but I don’t really apply the ‘poor’ to me too much. Generally I’ve been fairly healthy, so I didn’t apply the ‘sick’ to me too much. Then I got to the ‘ignorant.’ Sister Marie, in her great wisdom and her great way, would show people and bring them out of their ignorance. I was thinking of so many different ways that Sister Marie influenced my life, bringing me maybe from ignorance to understanding.”

The first reading at the Mass, chosen by Sister Marie, was from Zephaniah 3.

“The reading says that we must always recognize that the King is in your midst. . . .,” Father Michelson said. “It says because that King will renew love in our hearts. When we serve the King, we serve the Lord. We will be renewed each day. I think Sister Marie in a very real sense knew about that sense of renewal because she experienced it herself, and she would challenge us to experience that same renewal of God’s love in each of our hearts each day.”

Sister Marie “filled her life with service,” Father Michelson said.

“I think for much of her life she would have been seen maybe more as a Martha than a Mary: finishing nursing school, running the nursing school, going to the hospital, running the nursing area, then taking over as CEO of the hospital, then going and helping the sisters, then going to Chicago, then going to Lake Placid, then going to Paducah, and finally to retire and come back to Knoxville,” he said.

“She said, ‘I’ve been Martha long enough. I want to be Mary.’ . . . Sister Marie was truly both a Martha and a Mary. I don’t think I can categorize her singularly as either one.

She reached that balance that few people ever reach,” he added.

At every funeral at St. Albert the Great, “she was there to love and support, whether the funeral had five people or there were 100 people there,” Father Michelson said.

“Today we celebrate the great victory of Sister Marie, that victory that she has completed her journey on this earth because she is up there now in the kingdom, and you better believe she is preparing a place for each of us.”

In his closing remarks, Father Michelson said, “Now we take leave of our sister, Marie. We give back to God that very wonderful and special gift she was to each of us in this world.”

Sister Marie was preceded in death by her parents, Edgar and Elizabeth; her brothers, Tom and Pat; and brothers-in-law, Dick Duncan and Bob Rupp. Sister is survived by her brother, Edgar James and wife Doris Moore of Lewisburg, Tenn.; sisters, Geraldine Duncan of Kansas City, Mo.; Clara Rupp of Lewisburg; Margaret Ann Moore of Nashville; Virginia and husband Jay Gloede of Glen Burnie, Md.; and Catherine and husband Bill Brancheau of Toledo, Ohio; sisters-in-law, Nancy Moore of Maryville and Linda Moore of Knoxville; many nieces and nephews; grand-nieces and grand-nephews; and members of her religious community.

Memorials may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Mission Advancement Fund, 900 E. Oak Hill Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917.

Sister Placide, who served as controller and assistant administrator in charge of finance for St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital for 18 years, was born Nov. 4, 1914, in Middlesboro, Ky.

As a young woman, Frances Teresa Kilcoyne worked for the Blue Diamond Coal Co. in Knoxville before entering the Sisters of Mercy in September 1949 at the age of 34, becoming Sister Mary Placide.

After professing vows in 1952, she was assigned to St. Mary’s Hospital, where she began serving in a finance role. In 1971, she was called to serve as the treasurer of the Sisters of Mercy in the Cincinnati Province, with administrative responsibility for community-sponsored ministries. She returned to Knoxville in 1989 to again lend her financial expertise to St. Mary’s Hospital, serving as internal auditor until her retirement to Mercy Convent in 2006.

Sister Placide was highly respected for her business acumen and wisdom, abilities that were instrumental in preserving the financial viability of the Sisters of Mercy community and its hospital ministry.

After her first profession on March 12, 1952, Sister Placide served as hospital controller at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Cincinnati. In 1953, she became hospital controller at St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital in Knoxville, and in 1960-61 she commuted to Nashville, where she earned a degree in business administration from Peabody College. She then did graduate work in financial management in 1963-64 at the University of Notre Dame.

Sister Placide’s service in financial management in Knoxville extended beyond St. Mary’s Hospital. She was recognized locally and beyond for her contributions to hospital financial management. In March 1963 she was selected to attend the nationwide Institute of Personnel and Financial Management at the Generalate of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the Union in Bethesda, Md.

She then served as a key member of the coordinating committee of the East Tennessee Hospital Data Processing Council, which developed a shared computer program for 15 hospitals in Middle and East Tennessee. This was one of the first such programs in the nation in 1968. At the time, Sister Placide said, “It is remarkable that there were no computer errors found in the first batch of payroll checks for 1,200 employees.”

In May 1970, the Hospital Financial Management Association, Tennessee Chapter, installed Sister Placide as state president. During her term, the American Hospital Management Association, with 72 chapters in the United States totaling 9,000 members, presented the Tennessee Chapter with the Graham L. Davis Award for contributions to hospital financial management at its annual convention in Columbus, Ohio. Sister Placide received personal recognition when she was honored with the “Outstanding Leadership Award.”

During her 18 years of service, St. Mary’s went through a major growth period: four additions and construction of the Annunciation Wing in 1966 and the Magdalen Clarke Tower in 1972. Her primary role through those years was to develop plans for financing the expansion programs.

In May 1971, Sister Placide was called to a new ministry, to serve as the treasurer of the Sisters of Mercy for the Province of Cincinnati. In that position, she headed the financial management offices for the entire Cincinnati Province – Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Jamaica – and worked closely with the province’s Electronic Data Processing Center.

In her new role, Sister Placide developed the Sisters of Mercy’s retirement program and guided the lay employees’ retirement program in its continuing growth and improvement in benefits. She reviewed facility budgets and capital requests, recommended present methods of funding services to the poor, and saved Mercy Health System facilities hundreds of thousands of dollars by implementing self-insurance for medical malpractice and general liability.

Sister Placide’s contribution during her years as province treasurer was described by Sister Doris Gottemoeller on May 1, 1989: “As sister moves to Knoxville, she leaves behind a record of 18 years in province service, which included the administration of our province finances and of numerous lay employee benefit plans. Her foresight and planning and professional skills have benefited not only the province, but also the thousands of employees and retirees of our many institutions.

“While we are grateful for Sister Mary Placide’s outstanding professional expertise, we also want to acknowledge and thank her for her personal gifts of clarity of thought and expression, graciousness, and good humor, which she used so well in assisting successive province administrative teams to be good stewards. Her command of the intricacies of our financial situation and her gift for analysis and explanation frequently helped make the obscure obvious and the difficult doable!”

Sister Placide served in Cincinnati for 18 years after serving at St. Mary’s Hospital for 18 years, which prompted one Sister of Mercy to quip, “Sister has got to stop this job hopping!”

On July 1, 1989, Sister Placide returned to St. Mary’s to serve in a new role as internal auditor.

In April 2003, she celebrated two major milestones: her golden jubilee as a religious and 50 years in Catholic health care. At a Mass, then-Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz of the Diocese of Knoxville cited three ways in which God had used her to make a difference in people’s lives: “I believe God has worked through you as a woman of service, as a woman of community, and as a woman of prayer.”

And Sister Albertine Paulus, RSM, said Sister Placide had earned “a reputation for careful stewardship of financial resources, for astute judgment, for wise investment, for long-range vision, and for broad interests.”

After 53 years of service, Sister Placide retired in 2006 and moved to Mercy Convent in Nashville.

Sister Placide was preceded in death by her parents, Patrick and Frances Kilcoyne, her sisters, and her brother.

She is survived by her nephew, Patrick Kilcoyne, other family members, and members of her religious community.

A funeral Mass for Sister Placide was celebrated March 2 at Mercy Convent, with Father John O’Neill presiding. She was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Nashville.

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