Biography of Sr. M. Simone Courtade, R.S.M.
Sr. M. Simone Courtade, R.S.M. — In November of 2008, the Mercy Health Partners Board of Trustees approved changing the name of the Strategic Initiative for the Poor Fund (S.I.P.) to the Sr. Simone Courtade Fund, to honor this advocate for the poor.
Sr. Simone earned a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from Mercy College of Detroit and a Master's Degree from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. During her 33 years of direct hospital service, she served as a staff nurse at Saint Mary's Hospital, Grand Rapids; staff nurse, head nurse and director of clinical nursing at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital/Samaritan Health Center, Detroit; and gerontological clinical nurse specialist and V.P. for Mission Services at Mercy Hospital, Muskegon. She also served on hospital boards of Saint Mary's, Grand Rapids; St. Joseph Mercy-Oakland, Pontiac; and Battle Creek Health System.
One of Sr. Simone's experiences during a sabbatical year in 2000 was immersion in the work of the Sisters of Mercy in Belize. She said that although she had spent 15 years at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Detroit and was aware of the needs of an impoverished, aging, inner city population, it was in Belize that she lived and worked with the poorest of the poor.
She returned from her sabbatical determined to do whatever she could to help, but soon discovered a recurrence of the cancer for which she had been treated six years earlier.
Despite her deteriorating health, Sr. Simone developed a way to help persons in Caribbean and Latin American countries who were suffering poverty. Using the interest from her inheritance and donations from friends and colleagues, she established the Courtade Latin American-Caribbean Fund in 2004 in memory of her parents. The first grants were awarded in 2005 to Mercy ministries in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Although annual requests for funds far exceeded the ability to respond, she continued to work toward the fund's growth until shortly before her death.
Sr. Simone is remembered for her practical wisdom, her optimism, her gentle sense of humor and her faith as she battled cancer for fourteen years. She often said she would live one day at a time and enjoy it as much as possible and so attended concerts, took vacations, advocated for peace and justice and continued an active interest in community affairs.
Sr. Mary Simone Courtade died on October 18, 2008.