Sr. Barbara Markey – remembering an incredible life

1977 Barb Markey graduates Magus UNL with mom and sister

Sr. Barbara Markey (November 15, 1934 – April 3, 2021), ND, passed away peacefully Easter Saturday with lifelong friend Sr. Dorothy Rolf, ND, by her side.

Preceded in death by parents, James and Elizabeth (O’Brien) Markey; brothers: Joseph, John, and James; sisters: Sister Campion Markey O.S.F., Rosalie Craig, Joan O’Connell, Mary Mangus, and Regina McCulloh.  Survived by Notre Dame Sisters; brothers-in-law, Richard Mangus and Douglas McCulloh; sister-in-law, Sharon Markey; numerous nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Visitation will be Friday, April 16th from 4- 7pm at Heafey Hoffman Dworak Cutler West Center Chapel with a vigil service at 7pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be  Saturday, April 17 at 10:00 AM at St. John’s Parish Creighton Campus, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178. All gatherings will follow CDC guidelines.

Sr. Barbara Markey was born in Norfolk, Nebraska and attended Notre Dame Academy in Omaha, graduating in 1952.  She entered the novitiate of the Notre Dame Sisters in 1952 and was given the name, Sr. Mary John.  She professed her vows in 1954.  Over many years she served as an elementary and secondary school teacher.  In the Omaha Archdiocese this included St. Adalbert and Notre Dame Academy.  She also taught in the dioceses of Lincoln and Des Moines.

Many of Sr. Barbara’s early years of teaching also included holding positions for the Notre Dame Sisters.  She served as Vocation Director, Postulant and Novice Director, and also as a member of the Sisters’ Leadership teams for five terms.  She attend many international meetings of the Notre Dame Sisters, especially in the renewal years after Vatican II.   She headed many key committees, assisting the Sisters in their renewal and outreach to meet various needs in the Midwest.

See more photos here

Sr. Barbara earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Duchesne College and her Masters from UNL.  In addition she earned a doctorate in Psychology and Counseling from UNL and completed post-doctoral studies at the Menninger Foundation in 1977, and then served part-time with the Omaha Catholic Social Service Office and Creighton University.  In 1978 she was appointed by Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan to be the Director of the Archdiocesan Family Life Office, a position she held until 2006. In her ministry at the Archdiocesan Family Life Office, Sr. Barbara collaborated with others to create the FOCCUS marriage preparation manual and REFOCCUS for training parish family ministers.  Other areas in the Archdiocese for which she ministered included the Religious Consultation Center, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the Sisters’ Council.

Barb Markey 1991 with textbook she wrote and edited about training leaders in Parish Family Ministry

To promote the tools she had helped create, Sr. Barbara traveled to various states and nations providing lectures and workshops for Family Life ministers.   She also served on USCCB’s Marriage and Family Committee. She had close ties to Creighton University over the years serving at the Life-long Learning Center as teacher, counselor and marriage and family counselor.  In 2008 she began service as Pastoral Associate and consultant for Campus Ministry at St. John’s, Creighton campus.

The Markey Family had nine children and all remained close to each other over the years even though they lived in various parts of the United States.  No doubt what she learned from her own parents and family she shared as she counseled, organized and advocated for family needs.

Sister Barbara was preceded in death by her parents James and Elizabeth (O’Brien) Markey, her brothers James, John, and Joe; her sisters Sister Campion Markey, OSF, Rosalie Craig, Joan O’Connell, Mary Mangus, and Regina McCulloh.  She is survived by the Notre Dame Sisters, brothers-in-law Richard Mangus and Doug McCulloh, sister-in-law Sharon Markey and numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Barb Markey 1985

On the occasion of her 50th jubilee Sister Barbara noted:  “My ministry as a Notre Dame Sister has been directed over these years by my belief that ‘the Glory of God is the person fully alive,’” quoting St. Irenaeus.  Her work with education and families over many years had been guided by this belief.


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