A Sister of Mercy Receives Catholic Charities’ Annual Award

Each year the Children, Youth, and Family Services Section of Catholic Charities USA recognizes an individual who has demonstrated excellence, creativity and leadership in service delivery to children and families.

Alliance partner Catholic Charities USA honored Sister Theresa Mary Sumner, RSM, as the recipient of its 2008 Bishop Sullivan Award. Sister Sumner is a Sister of Mercy and director of social services for St. Mary’s Home in Savannah, Georgia. She has dedicated her life to caring for troubled children and their families.

Sister Theresa Mary entered the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1950 in Baltimore, Md. and in 1956, she began working at St. Vincent’s Male Orphanage as a house parent. She was later transferred to Villa Maria, a large residential care facility in Towson, Md., and then to St. Mary’s in Savannah.

Throughout her career in Savannah, she assumed a great deal of responsibility for young people, first becoming supervisor of a wing in the care facility and then as a child care supervisor. She earned her certification in child care and became the first Sister of Mercy in Georgia to be licensed. Theresa Mary also became certified as a trainer for advanced child care through the University of Oklahoma and trained generations of child care staff.

In 2000, the Savannah CBS affiliate, WTOC, named her a “hometown hero” in recognition of the affect she has had on the lives of children. That same year, she received the Eugene Calhoun Life Achievement Award from the Georgia Association of Homes and Service for Children.

About Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA’s members—nearly 1,700 local agencies and institutions nationwide—provide help and create hope for nearly 8 million people of all faiths. For more than 280 years, local Catholic Charities agencies have been providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from day care and counseling to food and housing.  For more information, visit