Mother Barbara Anne Gooding, RSM, a foundress of the Religious Sisters of Mercy order of Alma, Mich., who was in residence in the Diocese of Knoxville, passed away Friday, April 1, following a brief illness.
Called in religious life Sister Barbara Anne Marie, RSM, she was born on Feb. 12, 1940, in Cincinnati and entered eternal life at the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma convent in Knoxville surrounded by her religious community of sisters. As a foundress of the order, she also was known as Mother Barbara Anne Marie.
In the Diocese of Knoxville, Mother Barbara Anne Marie served as a nurse with the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, working alongside sisters from her order and volunteers in delivering health care to those in need in the rural parts of the diocese.
Bishop Richard F. Stika praised Mother Barbara Anne Marie for her vocation and as one of the women religious who began the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma.
“Mother Barbara Anne Marie, who just recently traveled to Lourdes, spent her life in service to God. She was the face and hands of Jesus as she served others through nursing and as the administrator of two hospitals,” Bishop Stika said.
“We enjoyed having her live here in the Diocese of Knoxville. She was a faithful, smiling sister who left a lasting impression on us all,” Bishop Stika added, noting that he especially enjoyed Sister Barbara Anne Marie’s reaction when he would greet her singing “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys.
Sister Mary Marta Abbott, RSM, the diocesan superintendent of schools who served with Mother Barbara Anne Marie in the Religious Sisters of Mercy, said Mother Barbara Anne received Communion daily until her last day, most often from Bishop Stika. She said Cardinal Justin Rigali also gave her an apostolic blessing, including a plenary indulgence the week before she died.
In 1961, Sister Barbara Anne Marie professed vows in Cincinnati. She was educated as a nurse and served in hospitals in Ohio and Michigan and received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in health care administration. She taught at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy, with its motherhouse located in Alma, is a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right dedicated to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Established in 1973 in response to the renewal called for in the Second Vatican Council, the Institute recognizes Venerable Catherine McAuley as its original foundress.
Mother Barbara Anne Marie is survived by a brother, Gary, and sisters Susan, Sharon, Ellen and Amy.
A funeral Mass and burial will be held in Alma, with Bishop Stika serving as the celebrant.
In Knoxville, a visitation will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, with a rosary beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Mary, Mother of Mercy Convent, 6832 S. Northshore Drive.
Bishop Stika also will serve as celebrant for a memorial Mass for Sister Barbara Anne Marie on Monday, April 4, at 10 a.m. at the Mary, Mother of Mercy Convent.