Sister Mary Nelson Harlach, a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, will celebrate her 104th birthday Thursday, July 6 at St. Mary of the Angels Convent, 201 Reist St. in Williamsville, N.Y.

Before becoming a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Mary Nelson worked as a nurse at Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, New York, an infant home, home for unwed mothers, boys’ orphanage, hospital, nurses’ home, and school. Here, she met Father Nelson Baker, founder of this “city of charity” and chose to make him her namesake in religious life. “I thought he was a miracle in himself because he was so kind,” she says. “He was a real blessing.”

As an educator and Sister of St. Francis, Sister Mary Nelson served as a teacher and principal for more than 40 years in various schools throughout the western New York area. She also served as an organist for many years. “My favorite place was Sheldon, where I made many friends and taught school.” She also enjoyed cooking for her sisters in community at the convent in Sheldon. Currently, she devotes her time to prayer ministry.

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