A long-time missionary servant to Alaska, Mercy Sister Arlene Boyd, died June 9 in Albany, New York. She was a Sister of Mercy for 59 years, spending most of that time teaching religious education and serving the poor and marginalized in Alaska.
Sister Boyd lived through the earliest days of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, which was founded in 1967. Around that time late Anchorage Archbishop Joseph Ryan persuaded the Sisters of Mercy in Albany to send some of their sisters north to the new archdiocese. Sister Boyd was among that early pioneering group and, like many post-Vatican II sisters, was highly educated.
Born in Watervliet, New York, Sister Boyd earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Rose and a master’s degree from the University of Alaska. She began her ministry serving as a teacher in a number of schools in New York before moving to Alaska where she fell in love with the people and the place and spent 36 years in ministry.
In Anchorage she helped found McAuley Manor, a place for homeless and troubled teenage girls that aimed to help them achieve academic success and independence, establish healthy relationships and to become contributors to the community.
Sister Boyd also served as director of religious education for St. Anthony Church in Anchorage and went on to become the director of religious education for the entire Anchorage Archdiocese. She also helped create the deaconate program and assisted in training new deacons.
Sister Boyd’s passion for the poor was reflected in her active involvement on numerous boards. These include the Anchorage Mayor’s Task Force on Homeless/Runaway Youth, the Alaska Transitional Housing Strategy Group and the Alaska Child Advocacy Network. She spent time with young people at the McLaughlin Youth Center — a prison for juveniles — and was known for showing profound respect to the youth she served.
Sister Boyd also had an artistic streak. She enjoyed writing plays for various archdiocesan meetings, playing the guitar and directing choir. Her fellow sisters back in Albany looked forward to receiving messages in verse from her during the holidays to keep them connected with happenings in Alaska.
A Liturgy of Christian Death and Burial will be celebrated June 12 at the Convent of Mercy in Albany, after which Sister Boyd’s body will be interred in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Contributions may be made in Sister Arlene’s memory to the Sisters of Mercy, 634 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, New York 12208; or to McAuley Manor, 3015 Yale Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99501.