2023 Laetare Medal recipient named
A Roman Catholic nun who spent much of her adult life working with people with developmental disabilities will receive the University of Notre Dame’s 2023 Laetare Medal at the university’s spring commencement in May. Sister Rosemary Connelly is the former executive director of Misericordia, a 37-acre residential campus on Chicago’s north side that serves children and adults living with disabilities.
The organization offers a wide range of vocational training and educational, social, recreational, medical and therapy opportunities.
“With her characteristic tenacity, grace and genius, Sister Rosemary has ensured that the residents of Misericordia — as wonderful children of God — have the quality of life and opportunities they deserve,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins. “We are inspired by her vision, her leadership and her compassion and are honored to bestow the Laetare Medal on her.”
Sister Connelly joined Misericordia as executive director in 1969. At the time, the nonprofit on Chicago’s south side provided a home and custodial care for children with disabilities from birth to age 6. But there were no educational activities.
Sister Connelly set out to change that, developing her own programming for the children in her charge.
Over the years, the campus relocated and expanded services. It currently services more than 600 children and adults.
“I always felt that God was with me, that God really took care of me. He even spoiled me by always making sure the right people were in the right place at the right time,” she said. “And I don’t think that’s accidental. The Lord has been more than gracious to me. So I’m thankful to God that we have a Misericordia. It’s a place where the children are respected and loved and the staff is very committed to them.”
Now 92, she has recently transitioned from her role as executive director to chairwoman of the board of the Misericordia Foundation, which focuses on fundraising efforts.