SISTER MARY NOEL KERNAN, SC age 95 , died at Caritas Christi, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg, PA on April 17, 2022. A Pittsburgh native, Sister Mary Noel entered the congregation of the Sisters of Charity on October 17, 1948, from Saint Bernard Parish in Pittsburgh. Preceded in death by her parents, John J. and Elizabeth (Steele) Kernan, four brothers, John J., Paul G., David R., James F., three sisters, Mrs. Jean (Donald M.) Coleman, Mrs. Julie (Arthur) Semple and Sister Eileen Kernan, OSF. and a paternal aunt, Sister Teresa Clare Kernan, SC; she is survived by a brother, Francis J. Kernan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English, psychology from Seton Hill University, a master’s degree in English from Duquesne University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Sister Mary Noel taught in secondary schools in the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Tucson, from 1951 through 1967 and was the director of the English Curriculum for the Pittsburgh diocese from 1960-1967. From 1971 until 1986, she taught at Seton Hill University. In 1986, during a sabbatical, Sister Mary Noel traveled to Korea, where she inaugurated a program in which American Sister volunteers taught conversational English to secondary teachers and students at St. Joseph High School and later at Somyong High School. While there, she made her first visit to Israel, which began a new mission in her career. From 1987 until 1996, Sister Mary Noel was the co-director of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University. She ministered in Western Pennsylvania Correctional Facility from 1998 until 2014, while serving as NCCHE Co-Director Emerita. Sister Mary Noel held membership in many professional organizations including the Holocaust and Interfaith Commissions of the UJF, Christian-Jewish Dialogue Commission, the International Council for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, and the NCTE task force on the Teaching of Poetry. Among her numerous awards and honors, she has earned a listing in Who’s Who in American education, the Seton Hill College Distinguished Alumna Leadership Award and the Diamond Jubilee Award for Long and Distinguished Service, as well as Niemoeller Award from Drew University and the Vatican’s Cardinal Tardini Medal for Service to Others.
Concerning her years of religious life, Sister Mary Noel observed, “Before I entered the novitiate at Seton Hill, I took as my motto: ‘In God’s will is our peace.’ Religious life provides ways of continuing to learn God’s plans for humankind, for all creation, and for oneself, personally. It has helped to shape my life in response. . . .My life has been blessed by the people with whom I’ve worked and by the work I’ve been given to do [which] provided situations to keep me learning about God’s plan for me and for all creation.”