John J. Brennan, chairman, Notre Dame Board of Trustees: Citation for the 2023 Laetare Medalist

Author: Sue Lister


As the daughter of Irish immigrants, you were taught the value of hard work, education, a loving home, and gratitude for God’s many gifts. At the age 19, you dedicated your life to God and to serving those most in need by joining the Sisters of Mercy, and you began teaching in Chicago’s archdiocesan schools while continuing your own education. 

When you were called to lead Misericordia Home on Chicago’s south side in 1969, you found that its young residents were well cared for—but given few opportunities to grow and develop their abilities. It was your forward-thinking and compassionate leadership that provided children with developmental disabilities the educational and recreational opportunities necessary to reach their full potential and to live the lives they deserve.

Through your vision, abiding faith, and selfless service for more than 50 years, Misericordia has grown into a thriving 37-acre community that now serves more than 600 children and adult residents and offers a wide range of vocational, educational, and therapy programs in a loving and nurturing environment. Along the way, you have been a source of hope and comfort for thousands of society’s most vulnerable people and those who care for them.

You have said of your residents that “each one is a unique gift to us today. A loving and loved person made by God with a purpose, no matter how wrapped in mystery that purpose may be.” Indeed, it is clear that you have also been placed in their lives as a gift from God and that, with His guidance, you have helped them to discern that purpose. In so doing, you have changed the lives of every person who has encountered Misericordia and created a new standard of compassionate care.

For your loving and determined advocacy on behalf of children and adults with disabilities, for your lifelong commitment to showing the merciful face of Christ to the world, and for your inspirational example at the helm—and heart—of Misericordia, the University of Notre Dame rejoices to confer upon you its highest honor, the Laetare Medal,


Sister Rosemary Connelly, R.S.M.

Chicago, Illinois