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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Sister Rosemary Connelly to be awarded 2023 Laetare Medal at commencement

Sister Rosemary Connelly, a lifelong advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities, will receive Notre Dame’s 2023 Laetare Medal, according to a press release. The Laetare Medal is awarded at commencement each year to an American Catholic leader “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Connelly is the former executive director of Misericordia, a Chicago-based nonprofit which seeks to “maximize potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged.” Since her appointment as executive director in 1969, Connelly has expanded to include educational and enrichment activities, in addition to residential care. 

Today, Misericordia has a 37-acre campus on Chicago’s north side, serving more than 600 children and adult residents, as well as an outreach program that assists more than 140 families. 

In the press release, Connelly cited the Misericordia community, residents and staff as the source of her motivation.

“They challenge us to be our best. They’re loving. They live life beautifully. And they can be models for us all,” she said.

At 92 years old, Connelly currently serves as chairwoman of the board of the Misericordia Foundation. She has received nine honorary degrees, the Order of Lincoln Medallion and a Caring Institute award, among other accomplishments. 

University President Fr. John Jenkins praised Connelly as this year’s recipient of the Laetare Medal.

“With her characteristic tenacity, grace and genius, Sister Rosemary has ensured that the residents of Misericordia — as wonderful children of God — have the quality of life and opportunities they deserve,” Jenkins said. “We are inspired by her vision, her leadership and her compassion and are honored to bestow the Laetare Medal on her.”