Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Sister Mary-beth Beres, Teacher, Consultant, Dies

Published August 21, 2008

Born in Birmingham, Ala., to John and Ethel (Elenyesi) Beres, she graduated from St. Mary High School in Jackson, Mich. Sister Mary-beth earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian, Mich., and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Northwestern University in Illinois.

Sister Mary-beth spent 38 years ministering in education in Medina, Ohio; Detroit and Temperance, Mich.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Philadelphia and Atlanta. She was an associate professor at Temple University in Philadelphia for 10 years and at Mercer University in Atlanta for seven years.

She and Sister Joan McCann, a Sinsinawa Dominican, founded Leadership Systems, a nonprofit consulting ministry serving religious congregations, social service organizations and schools.

Sister Loretta Costa, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, praised the work that Sister Mary-beth and Sister Joan did in working as consultants with religious communities who had to make adjustments in the decades following the Second Vatican Council.

“Changing a way of life was not easy,” Sister Loretta said.

Together the two sisters really helped other religious chapters change and adapt to a new way of life.

“They were a perfect team, working so beautifully together,” said Sister Loretta.

Another friend, Sister Margaret McAnoy, IHM, said that the women in the chapters the two helped believed that Sister Mary-beth was “absolutely magnificent.”

Sister Margaret, who works in pastoral care at Saint Joseph Hospital in Atlanta, first met Sister Mary-beth back in the late 1980s when the two were “trading the presidency” of the Atlanta Conference of Sisters (ACS) back and forth. Sister Margaret said that they were both “concerned about the sisters and willing to give our time and energy to the diocese.”

Her friend Sister Mary-beth, she said, was “one of the most brilliant people I ever met.”

She added that Sister Mary-beth had the most “analytical mind. … She did her research and then presented the facts so they became interesting.”

Sister Loretta, who served with Sister Mary-beth on the ACS for more than a decade, concurred, observing that Sister Mary-beth was “one of the brightest women” she knew. “We just companioned. … We did the work together.”

Sister Loretta said, “Her special gift was being able to impart information to people. (When others had questions) … she always responded with deep respect. She had a zest for living. She was unbelievable.”

Sister Loretta added that Sister Mary-beth could be “a part of any group—Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu—and she would be at home and speak intelligently. She was unusual.”

Sister Mary-beth was moderator of religious from 1993-2006 for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

In 2004, Sister Mary-beth was elected chapter prioress of the Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter for the Adrian Dominicans.

According to Sister Margaret, she had a “deep love for the Dominicans and their way of life.”

The funeral Mass was celebrated on Aug. 18 at the St. Catherine Chapel at the order’s motherhouse in Adrian. She was buried in the cemetery for the Adrian Dominican congregation.

Sister Mary-beth is survived by two sisters, Elissa Viornery of Germain-on-Laye, France, and Kate Beres of Santa Fe, N.M.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, MI 49221.