Sister Marques to receive McAuley Medal for her 'service and commitment'

Sister Therese Marie Marques, RSM.
Misericordia University will honor Sister Therese Marie Marques, RSM, executive director of the Catherine McAuley Center, by presenting her with the esteemed Mother Catherine McAuley Medal at the University’s second annual winter commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Anderson Sports and Health Center on campus. The McAuley Medal is the university’s highest honor. It recognizes significant service to the institution and to the values to which it aspires.

“Sister Therese embodies the spirit and ideals of Misericordia University and its founders and sponsors, the Religious Sisters of Mercy, through her life of service and commitment, particularly to the women and children of our community,” said Misericordia University President Michael A. MacDowell. “As a Sister of Mercy, she lives Catherine McAuley’s spirit.”

A native of Georgetown, Guyana, Sister Marques had an aunt who was a Sister of Mercy and she attended Sisters of Mercy-sponsored schools while growing up. She made the decision to enter the religious community in 1958 and immigrated to the United States to enroll at Misericordia for her academic and religious training. She graduated in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in French and a minor in English. She later earned a Master of Arts degree in English and American Literature, and a Master of Science degree in human resources administration, both from the University of Scranton.

Sister Marques began her distinguished career as a teacher of adult students at Misericordia and also taught at Catholic high schools in Wilkes-Barre, Plymouth and Freeland, Pa. After determining that her personal mission was to “help those most in need,” she returned to her homeland of Guyana in 1966 as a teacher at the high school she attended, St. Joseph High School in Georgetown. She was named principal in 1971 and served in that capacity until 1984. While in Guyana, she was appointed a council member and subsequently took on the leadership role as coordinator of the Community of the Sisters of Mercy, Guyana. She later was named chief executive officer of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, also in Georgetown.

Noting that her life has come full circle, she returned to the Wyoming Valley in 1989, where she took the position of educational coordinator and later director of educational and library services at the Sisters of Mercy-run Mercy Hospital, Wilkes-Barre. Urged by a friend to apply, she was named executive director of the Catherine McAuley Center, Scranton, Pa. in 1995, upon the retirement of founder, Sister Anne Paye, RSM.

The Catherine McAuley Center was established in Scranton in 1984 as a single guest home for women and children. Under the leadership of Sister Marques, it has expanded and today it is recognized as a vital resource for the community, providing seven safe and drug-free facilities for single, low-income women and women with children in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. There is also a transitional living center – the Catherine McAuley House – in Plymouth, Pa.

The McAuley Center provides numerous permanent and transitional housing programs, including two 30-day emergency shelter programs, four year-long transitional programs, one permanent housing program for the chronically homeless, one for victims of domestic violence and another especially for women leaving prison. All offer the support, education and case management needed for the clients to become self-sufficient and economically stable. Services include help finding safe housing, rental assistance for up to one year, assistance in finding job training and employment, and help for moving and procuring household furnishings, clothing and personal supplies.

In 2011, more than 350 women were housed in Catherine McAuley Center facilities. An additional 1,400 others, including men, women and children, received a wide range of social services through the Christmas Adopt-a-Family program, food bank, furniture bank and family support programs.

“There is no doubt that her commitment to the women and children of the community is unrivaled and that the growth and success of the Catherine McAuley Center is due to her leadership,” said Sister Jean Messaros, RSM, vice president of student affairs at Misericordia University. “She has nurtured the continued growth of the McAuley Center to the benefit of hundreds of women and their children in their most desperate hour and putting them on the road to self-sufficiency.”

Sister Marques resides in Shavertown, Pa.