By Amy Wenk
Sister Sally White found her calling while a student at Christ the King School in Buckhead.
“That’s where I first met the Grey Nuns,” White said. “I loved their graciousness and their refinement.”
So after she finished high school, the native Atlantan decided to join the ranks and become a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, a congregation established in the 1920s but rooted in the 18th-century teachings of Saint Marguerite d’Youville.
White was one of about 20 Grey Nuns recently recognized for their service in Atlanta.
The nuns were honored at a Sept. 1 Mass at Cathedral of Christ the King on Peachtree Road and at a Sept. 2 Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Briarcliff Road.
“It’s always nice to have people say thank you,” said Sister Ann McKee, who worked as a teacher at both churches.
From 1937 to 2010, around 180 Grey Nuns served in the Atlanta archdiocese. They taught children, founded and administered Catholic schools, cared for the sick and elderly and helped the homeless and needy.
The nuns helped set up both Christ the King School and Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
“I have great personal affection and esteem for these women,” said Father James Schillinger, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for the past eight years. “They are good solid women of faith. … I am a priest because of these nuns.”
White has been a Grey Nun for more than 60 years.
“Isn’t that exciting?” White said during a Sept. 2 reception at Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has more than 300 parishioners who live in Buckhead and Brookhaven. “It is a wonderful profession.”
From 1955 to 1963, White, known as Sister Francis Maureen, taught at Christ the King School. In 1962, she helped found St. Jude the Apostle Catholic School in Sandy Springs and became the school’s first principal. She later taught at St. Pius X Catholic High School.
“It was fun,” White said. “Oh my gosh, they were good kids.”
After teaching, White spent 21 years as an oncology chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Sandy Springs.
“It was an incredible time working with the dying,” White said. “That’s the beauty of being a nun – if it’s ministry, you could do it.”
White was the last Grey Nun to serve in Atlanta when she retired earlier this year. She now lives in the congregation’s motherhouse in Yardley, Penn.
“We’re getting smaller,” White said about the Grey Nun congregation. “We don’t have new membership. We depend on the goodness of others.”