Sister Mary Charlene Ross

Sister Mary Charlene Ross, RSM

Sister Mary Charlene Ross was born in Kansas City, Mo., on March 25, 1930, to John and Ruth (Parrish) Ross. She was educated by the Sisters of Mercy and one year after graduating from Glennon High School in Kansas City, she entered the Sisters of Mercy Community in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1948. 

Sister Charlene served as a teacher in elementary schools for many years, with an emphasis on music education. She primarily taught in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. She taught at St. Peter, St. Michael, St. Mary’s Academy, St. Ann, St. James, Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph, Holy Cross/St. Joseph and St. Ann Parish.

Her love of music inspired her to begin a program in ten parochial schools in Kansas City to determine how best to use recordings to teach the fundamentals of music to elementary school students. As the diocesan elementary school music supervisor, she would visit each music class once a week.

Other teaching positions were at St. Margaret Mary and St. Patrick in Omaha, Nebraska and Blessed Sacrament in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sister Jeanne Christensen, RSM, friend and former house-mate of Sister Charlene, said Sister Charlene was a pre-eminent educator. “Everything I knew about teaching in elementary school, I learned from her,” Sister Jeanne said. “Her students respected her because she was honest and direct with them. She expected them to do the best they could.”

Her niece, Sister Marilyn Ross, RSM, had this to say about her aunt, “I knew her to be a strong and determined woman who always said what she was thinking. She was a strict but compassionate teacher, especially to those who had trouble learning.”

After teaching for over 30 years, Sister Charlene became the pastoral associate at Christ the King Church in Kansas City, Mo., in 1984. Nine years later she became the director of religious education for St. Catherine Siena Parish in Kansas City.

In 1994, Sister Charlene had the opportunity to teach in Szent Norbert Gimnázium, Hungary.

After returning from Hungary, she ministered as a tutor in Gladstone, Missouri. 

Sister Claudette Schiratti, RSM, said, “Sister Charlene served in many capacities in Kansas City. She enjoyed the Sisters getting together and was a marvelous cook, a gracious hostess as well as an avid and deep thinker.”

In 2018 when celebrating her 70th Jubilee, Sister Charlene said, “I am grateful for the places and people I have met over these past 70 years. I always enjoyed teaching and found that having a sense of humor helped. I am truly grateful for having been a Sister of Mercy.”

Funeral services for Sister Charlene were held at Mercy Villa in Omaha on July 8.

To access her obituary and an online guestbook, search her name on The Omaha World-Herald website,


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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph