November 17, 2017

OBITUARY: Sister Mary Peter Meckel, SP



HOLYOKE – Sister of Providence Mary Peter Meckel died on Nov. 17. She was in the 71st year of her religious life.

Born Rosemary Louise Meckel in Holyoke, she was the daughter of the late William and Mary (Cadigan) Meckel.

She entered the Sisters of Providence congregation in 1947 after graduating from the former Sacred Heart High School in Holyoke. She ministered for several years in the accounting offices of institutions staffed by the Sisters of Providence, including St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass.; the former St. Luke’s Hospital in Pittsfield; and Providence Hospital in Holyoke. She earned her bachelor of science in accounting from Bentley College in 1965, after which she served as comptroller and supervisor of the business office at St. Vincent Hospital until 1968.

She then continued her education, earning her MBA from Boston College in 1970 while at the same time serving as assistant controller at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.  In 1972, she began a new ministry as grants and research aide for the Methadone Maintenance Program at Providence Hospital. In 1977, she worked directly with the poor at The Mustard Seed and Abby House in Worcester, as well as at Deborah’s Place in Washington, D.C.

From 1978 through 1988, she served as director of Open Pantry, Inc., in Springfield. In 1988, she began as assistant development director for St. Francis House in Boston and, in the same year, was elected to the Executive Council of the Sisters of Providence (1989–1997).

In 1990, she began work at the Franklin County Community Food Program in Greenfield.  In 1997, she moved to North Carolina where she became a member of the staff at the Robeson County Church and Community Center in Lumberton, ministering in the adult literacy and English as a second language programs as well as tutoring school children in reading. She also served on the Boards of Trustees for St. Joseph of the Pines Health System and for Lumber River (NC) Legal Services, Inc. 

In 2007, she returned to Providence Place in Holyoke, volunteered at the Providence Ministries for the Needy meal program, and began the Sisters of Providence SHARE program that distributed groceries.

She was a fellow of the American Association of Hospital Accountants. She served as vice president of the Western Massachusetts Food Bank Advisory Board; treasurer of Hope Home in Holyoke; and board member of the Sisters of Providence Health System. She was named the Outstanding Student of her graduating class at Bentley College in 1965 and Woman of the Year in 1985 by the Women’s Division of Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

She is survived by her sisters in community; her sister, Margaret Eakin; and her brothers, William and James Meckel. 

The wake for Sister Meckel will be held on Sunday, Nov. 19 from 3:30-7 p.m. at Providence Place, 5 Gamelin Street, Holyoke; a prayer service will be held at 6:30 p.m. The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. in the Providence Place Chapel.