Sister Jean Announces Plans For Retirement


Julia Fawbush, Reporter

Sister Jean Messaros, vice president for mission integration at Misericordia University, has announced she will retire in June 2020.

Before she came to the university, Messaros taught in the Catholic school system in two parishes in Harrisburg. She was invited to the university and learned about student life and, in 1980, was elected to leadership in her religious community and the Sisters of Mercy of Dallas Twp.

“Misericordia was founded by the Sisters of Mercy and is a Sisters of Mercy-sponsored institution,” she said. “As a Sister of Mercy, I felt called to come here.”

In 2000, Messaros founded The Women with Children Program due to the concern of women working at the Resource Center and struggling to care for their children. After she took a trip to Wilson College in Chambersburg, which had a similar program, she decided Misericordia could do it differently.

She went on to say The Women and Children Program has had four directors since its beginning, currently has three homes and has had over 30 participants graduate from the university.

“Women who could not afford it never thought they would go to college,” Messaros said. “We have speech and language, we have social work, we have teachers coming from the program.”

Sister Cindy March, associate director of mission integration, said The Women with Children Program is huge because it is, what she thinks, a part of Sister Jean’s legacy.

“It goes right to the heart of our Catherine McAuley and her work with women and children,” March said.

March met Messaros  when she was a student at the university and Messaros worked in Campus Ministry. Several years later, March joined the Sisters of Mercy and the two have been connected ever since.

“Her biggest impact is her presence because it’s not so much of what she’s done, and she’s done a lot, but it’s who she is and how she does what she does,” March said.

March said Messaros has a way of helping people feel like they matter, know they are cared about and knowing what goes on at the university. She said she knows a lot of people value and appreciate her empowerment.

Messaros said it has taken a long time for her to come to a decision to retire because she has gotten to know many of the staff, faculty and students on campus, so much so they have become part of her family.

“I’ve been here so long,” she said, “and I know so many of the people who are here, and truly, I love them.”

She said the decision is bittersweet but, after going to multiple mercy colleges, she believes the Misericordia community is special. She is especially thrilled the university finally got the Catherine McAuley statue because of how important it is for the Sisters of Mercy and because McAuley founded the community she loves so much.

“I may leave this position, but, who knows, I could show up just wandering around campus; you never know,” Messaros said.