The Sisters of Mercy invite members of the Saint Xavier University community to join them in remembering Sister Betty (Olivia) Barrett, RSM, former Saint Xavier President, at a Memorial Mass at 9 a.m. on Tues., Sept. 20 at Mercy Chapel across campus.
Sister Betty, who donated her body to science, died on Sept. 14 in Aurora, Ill. Saint Xavier will remember and honor Sister Betty at a University event later this semester.
A faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Saint Xavier for several years, Sister Betty served as President of then Saint Xavier College for five years (1963 to 1968). It was a time of considerable turmoil in society and at Saint Xavier. Sister Betty led successful efforts to raise $3 million in response to a challenge grant from the Ford Foundation (1965). A champion of justice in many situations, her tenure as President included the controversial John XXIII Theological Symposium, which brought national attention to Saint Xavier (1966). She argued strongly for Saint Xavier to become coeducational, a change that came in January 1969.
After leaving Saint Xavier, Sister Betty served on the Illinois Human Relations Council and worked at the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago. Within the Sisters of Mercy, she held leadership positions and worked closely with sisters serving in Latin America and the Caribbean. She lived and ministered in Honduras for several years (1987-1994) and then spent a decade in pastoral outreach, primarily with Hispanic parishioners, at St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora, Illinois. Sister Betty retired to McAuley Convent in Aurora in 2004.