Globetrotting Sister Applies International Insights to Mission Work

Sister Cheryl Erb is senior vice president of mission integration with Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sister Cheryl Erb is senior vice president of mission integration with Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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By Karel Lucander

“No matter where we reside, each day we welcome the same sun and the same moon. This presence of God puts us in solidarity, even with everyone around the globe,” Sister Cheryl Erb says.

“Beyond the mystique of the mist and the effervescence of the people of Ireland; beyond the desert beauty and the innately religious persona of India … there exists a hunger, a search and a desire to enliven one’s religious experience and connect the word of God to everyday life.”

Ministered Across Continents

After teaching high school for 27 years, Sister Cheryl traveled throughout the world-to Ireland, Slovakia, Africa, India, New Zealand, and other countries-ministering for 12 years with RENEW International to rejuvenate Catholic communities. She then began ministering in health care. These previous ministries provided valuable insight and honed leadership skills for her current role as senior vice president of mission integration with Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“One of the subjects I taught in high school was cultural anthropology. Who would have thought this high school teacher would then be in the bush of Africa, living and working among the people? It was very transformative,” Sister Cheryl says. “I think it has helped my ability to create meaningful relationships.”  

Strengthening Mercy Mission and Values

As senior vice president of mission integration, Sister Cheryl strengthens the Sisters of Mercy mission and values through orientations and one-on-one group presentations. Her responsibilities include ongoing spiritual care for chaplains in the region; ethical development of the community; and community benefit, or demonstrating that the health system is assisting the health of the community. Much of her time is spent meeting with individual mission directors and with the board of trustees and quality committee, ensuring that all the operational and clinical mission needs are “on the table.” Among her biggest challenges are the unknowns in health care.

“Mission and margin go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. If we look at the future of health care by way of prevention, and knowing that health care is a contentious commodity in the government, the government can try to make or break us by the choices they make. Our health system is blessed to have some very wise people who understand that health care in the future has to be value based for the person,” she says.

Community and Family Life

Sister Cheryl, who entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1963, lives with six other Sisters of Mercy and values being a part of this vibrant group.

“Having sisters that enable good prayer, good support, good fun, good conversation-that is an important part of who I am,” she says.

When Sister Cheryl is not ministering at Mercy Health or visiting with other sisters, she enjoys reading, knitting and flower arranging. She spends most weekends with her 95-year-old mother-cooking for her, accompanying her to movies, taking her to Sunday Mass, and watching sports on TV with her. “It is a privilege to spend time with her,” she says.