5/7/2015 9:00:00 AM OBITUARY Sister Mary Ann Walsh, RSM
A funeral Mass was offered May 4 in the chapel of the Convent of Mercy, Albany, for Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who died April 28. She was 68 and had been a Sister of Mercy for 50 years.
A native of Albany, she began her career as a journalism teacher, head of the English department and publications moderator at Mercy High School in Albany. She was a staff writer for The Evangelist in the 1970s and '80s and went on to become an internationally respected journalist and media relations director: She served as the Rome bureau correspondent for Catholic News Service and as CNS' national desk reporter and media editor in Washington, D.C., then became director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Sister Mary Ann was often a commentator on major television news networks and in print media. She coordinated the U.S. cardinals' media efforts during the past two papal transitions. She directed communications for World Youth Day in Denver and produced "Five Extraordinary Days," a video about the visit of Pope John Paul II, honored at the Sundance Film Festival. She edited "Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy;" "John Paul II: A Light for the World;" and "From John Paul II to Benedict XVI: An Inside Look at the End of an Era, the Beginning of a New One, and the Future of the Church."
Helen Osman, secretary for communications at the U.S. bishops' conference, said that "it's hard to think of anyone else with her depth of journalism." Sister Mary Ann humorously described her job as godfather duty, as in, "God, Father, you didn't say that."
Among the many honors she received during her career was the President's Medallion, the highest honor given by the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals. In March, she was presented with the Catholic Press Association's St. Francis de Sales award for lifetime achievement in the field of journalism.
At the time of her death, she was in her final assignment as U.S. Church correspondent for America magazine.
Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard wrote in a 2013 tribute to sisters from the Albany Diocese that "Sister Mary Ann Walsh does our Diocese proud."
Sister Mary Ann's own tribute to a friend -- the late Sister Maureen Joyce, RSM, who was executive director of Catholic Charities for the Albany Diocese until her death in 2010 -- may be the best words to describe Sister Mary Ann herself: She "combined homespun wisdom [and] Irish charm....At the national level, she was a respected collaborator....She loved the Sisters of Mercy and [they] loved her."
After Sister Mary Ann helped with media coverage of St. John Paul II's funeral in 2005 and watched his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, being chosen, she summed up her career in an interview with The Evangelist: "I feel very blessed to be able to be a part of history."
Survivors include her brothers, Thomas of Albany and Patrick of Ballston Lake. Interment was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Greenbush.