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Mary Hembrow Snyder honored with Mercy award

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

“If you were to ask all whose lives have been touched by Dr. Mary Hembrow Snyder to describe her in just one phrase, you would hear again and again, ‘Woman of Mercy. Woman of Justice.’” So wrote Sister Sally Walz in nominating Snyder for this year’s Spirit of Mercy Award from the Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo, N.Y.

Walz was principal of Mount Mercy Academy, a Catholic college-preparatory high school founded by the Sisters of Mercy, when Snyder was teaching there in the 1970s and 1980s. Snyder was also nominated for the award by two of her former students.

Snyder’s “entire life and career has exemplified Catherine McAuley’s values of mercy and justice,” making her most deserving of the Spirit of Mercy Award, Walz wrote.

Snyder was to receive the award during the school’s 2014 Mercy Honors Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 6.

A professor of religious studies and director of the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies at Mercyhurst University, Snyder was a member of Mount Mercy’s religion department, first as a Sister of Mercy and then as a lay woman. She was known for her knowledge and wit and for being a great role model for students. By her teaching and her example, she also instilled a desire for service among her students.

After her years at Mount Mercy, Snyder came to Mercyhurst, where she is equally respected by her colleagues and students, a one-time recipient of the university’s coveted Teaching Excellence Award. During her 26 years at Mercyhurst, she has held various positions of leadership while being a teacher and scholar and living out the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy (the poor, especially women & children) and the mission of Mercyhurst University.

She has authored four books, most recently as co-editor with Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, of Essential Writings: Joan D. Chittister. She was also a guiding force in establishing the new Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB, at Mercyhurst last spring.