Sister Mary Augusta Garcia served in hospital lab and as instructor

Sister of Mercy Mary Augusta Garcia spent more than 36 years in a hospital lab, where she was easily recognized by her white habit, veil and shoes.

She discovered her calling in high school, when she worked part-time in a Durango, Colorado, hospital laboratory, according to a written tribute by the Sisters of Mercy. Growing up, she was influenced by members of that order who served at her school, church and the hospital.

“You’re given a vocation, and you choose to follow it,” she was quoted as saying.

Sister Mary Augusta, 96, and a religious sister for 76 years, died March 18 at Mercy Villa in Omaha, “in the same manner as she lived – peacefully and quietly,” according to the tribute. Residing at Mercy Villa since 2013, she participated in prayer ministry.

Services will be held at a later date, and her cremated remains will be interred at Resurrection Cemetery in Omaha.

After high school, Sister Mary Augusta continued to work at the Durango hospital for a couple of years, until 1944, when she entered the Sisters of Mercy in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She professed temporary vows in 1947 and final vows in 1950.

She then studied medical technology at College of Saint Mary in Omaha, completing an internship at Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs. While earning a bachelor’s degree, she helped teach medical laboratory students in hospitals in Denver, Omaha and Joplin, Missouri.

Sister Mary Augusta returned to the Durango hospital in 1965 and became a fixture there, honored as employee of the year in 1989, and recognized by her white habit.

“I like the habit,” she had explained. “People here like to see the nuns in the habit … it’s kind of a visible sign, you can say.”

She was preceded in death by her parents, Severino and Augusta Garcia, and her brother, Joe Garcia. Survivors include her siblings Ruby Martinez and Katherine Brown, as well as the Sisters of Mercy.

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