Sister Nancy (formerly Robert Marilyn) Jones was a Sister of Mercy for 61 years. She loved to say that she grew up on Jones Road, named for her grandfather, in Howell, Michigan. Her parents sent her to St. Joseph elementary school in Howell, where she met the Sisters of Mercy and began what would become a lifelong commitment to ministry, prayer, and community in Mercy.
Nancy entered the Community in Detroit, Michigan, on September 7, 1961, where she attended Mercy College. She professed her first vows on August 16, 1964, and her final vows on August 16, 1969,choosing, for her ring motto, “Trust in God and Live.” After graduating, Nancy began a ministry of teaching, often in small rural schools in Michigan: Catholic Junior High School, Cheboygan; St. Brigid School, Midland; St. Mary School, Hemlock and St. Ann School, Cadillac. She concluded her ministry in education after serving as principal at St. Michael School in Remus and Our Lady of the Lake School in Prudenville.
After a year of personal renewal, Nancy studied massage therapy and then ministered as a driver and massage therapist for retired Sisters at McAuley Center, Farmington Hills, Michigan. From 2000 to 2017, she was Director of Sister/ Resident Services at McAuley Center. After retiring from McAuley Center, she described her “new” ministry as “ministry to the relatives of deceased Sisters”—although she was known for her connections with Sisters’ relatives throughout the last 22 years of her life.
“Nancy loved to keep in touch with people,” said her close friend Sister Margaret Platte. “She had a terrific memory for birthdays and anniversaries. She sent cards; she called people—especially the relatives of the Sisters who died at McAuley Center. She kept in touch with former students, and she was always running into people who remembered her—everywhere, even at Cedar Point—and she always stopped to talk with them. That was one of her ministries: to keep in touch.”
She also kept in touch with her own relatives, said her godson Robert who tucked a box of Cracker Jacks into Nancy’s coffin—a memento of all the little gifts she gave to him and to her other nieces and nephews; fifteen of them attended her funeral. The morning of the day she died, her sister Mary Smith, Sister Margaret Platte and Sister Rita Valade shared a Zoom call with Nancy, a final moment of her being in touch.
In addition to her ministry, Nancy had an active spiritual life. She was faithful to daily prayer and to her annual retreat, in which she began to explore art as prayer. At St. Bernardine’s Home in Fremont, Ohio, she continued to pray and share liturgy with her Sisters during the Covid pandemic. Even in Memory Care at St. Anne’s Mead, Southfield, Michigan, where she died, Nancy continued to pray the rosary almost until “the hour of [her] death.”