Elizabeth (Betty) Hunter, RSCJ

Birth: March 29, 1926Profession: June 3, 1949Death: May 9, 2012

Religious of the Sacred Heart Elizabeth (Betty) Hunter died Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at Teresian House in Albany. Sister Hunter’s selfless and healing nature was evidenced by a lifelong ministry of nursing and pastoral care. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11:00 a.m.  on Tuesday, May 15 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Saratoga Road, Glenville, NY 12302. Visitation will precede the Liturgy, beginning at 9:00 a.m.at the same location. A brief reflection on Sister Hunter’s life will commence at 10:45. Burial will be in the Kenwood Cemetery in Albany.

Born in New Rochelle, New York, March 29, 1926, Sister Hunter was the third of seven children of James Francis and Rosemary McMahon Hunter, both deceased. She was also preceded in death by a sister, Rosemary (Molly) Hunter and two brothers, James Hunter, Jr. and Richard Hunter. Her survivors include her brother, Dr. Anthony Hunter of Menands, New York, and two sisters, Barbara (John) Latu of Strafford, Pennsylvania and Jean Hunter, RSCJ, Albany, also a Religious of the Sacred Heart, and more than 2,300 Religious of the Sacred Heart around the world.

Sister Hunter entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Kenwood Convent in Albany, professed her first vows in 1949 and made her final profession in Rome, Italy, February 9, 1955.

A lifetime of caring for others found its professional outlet in 1952, when Sister Hunter became the mistress of health at Stone Ridge Academy of the Sacred Heart in Washington, DC. While she also taught at Overbrook and Eden Hall Academies of the Sacred Heart in Philadelphia, most of her ministry was in nursing and pastoral care. She set up the infirmary at Kenwood in Albany and served as nursing director at Memorial Hospital in Albany and as a pastoral nurse at the Ida Yarborough Housing Authority in Albany.

When a familial tremor prevented her from continuing to nurse, Sister Hunter prayed that God’s love continue to work in her and through her and she began a ministry in pastoral care. She was head of the pastoral care departments at University Heights Health Center in Albany, 1977-82, and at Glendale Nursing Home, Albany, 1982-98. She also served in pastoral care at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville, New York and as a Catholic chaplain at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, NY. Her final ministry was at Teresian House in Albany, where she lived, and where she made a point of visiting other elderly residents in a ministry of presence.

The “bachelor of smiles” that Sister Hunter earned from the “clownology” course at Hudson Valley Community College and her clown name “Suzie Sunshine” reveal much about her positive, other-centered nature. She found her joy in bringing pleasure to others. Relationships were of utmost importance to her, and she had a knack for creating and maintaining them.

“Sister Betty was a cherished member of our group for the last 18 years,” her faith sharing group said. “She shared with this group of women her deep spirituality, and love of coffee, sunrises, lobster and ocean air. Her sense of adventure, energy, enthusiasm, and acceptance of God’s plan were an inspiration to those who knew her.”

After her elementary education at Holy Family School in New Rochelle, Sister Hunter graduated from the Maplehurst Academy of the Sacred Heart in the Bronx and Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart. She also earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.