Nila Neill, IHM
Anne Mary Theresa Saunders Neill was born May 17, 1921, to John and Mary (Courtney) Saunders. Her father and mother, from Australia and Ireland respectively, were married in London. Anne Mary was born in Toronto shortly after her father died. Her mother married James Neill, an immigrant from Ireland, and a brother and sister joined the family. Another move took the family to western Pennsylvania. The family moved to Detroit, where Anne Mary attended Holy Rosary Grade School. Work drew the family to Las Vegas, where she continued her education in the Las Vegas public schools before the family returned to Detroit; she graduated from Girls’ Catholic Central High School. Anne Mary entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of Monroe, in 1939, receiving the religious name, Sister Nila.
Sister Nila earned a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College and master’s degree from the University of Detroit. Her career spanned 40-plus years and was wide-spread geographically. She was missioned in Michigan to St. John, Monroe; St. Louis, Mount Clemens; St. Matthew, Flint; St. Gregory, Our Lady of Good Counsel, and Holy Redeemer High School, Detroit; Holy Name, Birmingham; Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills; and St. Stephen, Port Huron; in IIllinois at St. Felicitas and St. Ludmilla, Chicago; and Immaculate Heart of Mary High School, Westchester. She spent a few years at Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and St. Michael, Miami, Fla. English was her forte.
Throughout her ministries, Sister Nila developed the religious education program for young Christian students during the summer and was dedicated in teaching and encouraging young girls in devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through community service.
Sister Nila continued in education as support staff at Mark High School, Wilmington, Del.; Our Lady of Lourdes School, Tijunga, Cal., and Marygrove College. She returned to Monroe to serve her community as administration support staff for six years. After leaving this work, she remained active by assisting in the IHM Archives Office until retiring in 2002. Sister Nila was always able and ready to respond on community history.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brother, Bernard Martin Neill, and sister, Sarah Renshaw.
Read her Remembering.