A funeral Mass will be offered Sept. 9 in the Convent of Mercy Chapel, Albany, for Sister Mary Kenan (Ave Maria) McGowan, who died Sept. 4. She was 78 and had been a Sister of Mercy for nearly 60 years.

A native of Albany, she served as a teacher at at St. Paul the Apostle School in Troy; Blessed Sacrament, Albany; St. Margaret Mary's, Albany; St. Mary's, Waterford; Annunciation, Ilion; and Catholic Central High School, Troy, where she was also director of alumni. She also helped begin her order's ministry in Anchorage, Alaska.

As one of the first parish life directors in the Albany Diocese, she served at St. John Francis Regis parish in Grafton and Sacred Heart, Berlin, now the Parish of Our Lady of the Snow.

When she was named pastoral administrator for the parish in 1993 -- a precursor to today's "parish life director" title -- Sister Kenan was well aware that she was breaking new ground. But she did so cheerfully, remaining an integral part of the parish even into retirement.

"We rarely succeed at anything unless we have fun doing it," read an adage posted in her office that first year. In reference to it, she told The Evangelist, "I live by that. I love what I do and I have fun."

Now that so many parishes in the Albany Diocese are led by religious and laity, that level of faith and commitment is being seen in a whole different spectrum of the faithful. In fact, Sister Kenan promoted lay leadership in Grafton and Berlin to the point where the parish was cited by famed spiritual author Paul Wilkes in his book, "Excellent Catholic Parishes."

Sister Kenan has well earned her rest.

Survivors include a sister, Irene Gotha. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Greenbush.