Sister Mary Damian, 90, nurse, educator

July 01, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Sister Mary Damian Faller, R.S.M., a longtime nurse educator and former director of nursing at Mercy Medical Center, died Saturday of renal failure at the hospital. She was 90.

Born Nancy Faller in Philadelphia and raised in Carlisle, Pa., Sister Damian earned a nursing degree from the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and worked as a head nurse at Mercy and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In 1937, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. She then earned a master's degree in nursing education at Catholic University.

During World War II, Sister Damian worked at the former Mount St. Agnes College to direct the U.S. Cadet Nursing Program, providing nurses for the war effort.

At the end of the war, she became director of nursing at Mercy, a position she would hold for almost 25 years.

"She was an extremely wonderful nurse educator," said Sister Elizabeth Anne Corcoran, RSM, a hospital administrator at Mercy who trained under Sister Damian. "She was very strict but very fair."

When the president of the former Community College of Baltimore asked the Sisters of Mercy to set up a nursing training program, Sister Damian oversaw its creation from 1969 to 1972. To satisfy state regulations, she became the first Sister of Mercy in the United States to teach on a secular campus wearing clothing other than the religious habit.

Sister Damian then spent eight years as nursing supervisor of Mercy's orthopedic floor, and her final position was to organize a pastoral care department at Mercy in 1980.

"Whenever you gave her a job, she did it well," said Sister Mary Thomas Zinkand, R.S.M., president emeritus of Mercy, who had asked Sister Damian to set up the pastoral care unit. "She was a firm administrator for the school, but she was very kind, too. She loved her students, but they always had to do what she told them."

Sister Damian retired in 1991 but continued volunteering in pastoral care until her recent illness. Last year, the Mount St. Agnes Alumnae Board gave Sister Damian its first lifetime achievement award for her work.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, York and Overbrook roads, Rodgers Forge.

Sister Damian is survived by a brother, Vincent Faller of Tampa, Fla., and a sister, Genevieve Cronin of Largo, Fla.

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