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Sharon (Mary Austin) Defever, IHM

Sister Sharon Defever, IHM, 83, died Friday, Nov.17, at her home, the IHM Senior Living Community.

Sharon Marie Elizabeth Defever was welcomed into the family of Albert and Germaine (DeSerrano) Defever on April 30, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. As a young student, she attended Our Lady of Good Counsel (Detroit) and St. Joan of Arc (St. Clair Shores) and graduated from Dominican High School. She completed her studies at Marygrove College, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1962. Later that year, she entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on September 7 and received the religious name Sister Mary Austin.

After a few years teaching in Monroe and Ann Arbor, Sister Mary Austin was missioned to Mobile, Alabama. It began a long teaching tenure at St. Monica School, eventually serving as co-principal. While in this time of ministry, she earned a master’s in education. She loved the people and ministry in Alabama, staying at St. Monica School for over twenty years.

In the early 1990s, she welcomed a time of transition, education and growth, and entered into a new ministry of Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy. She gained the necessary education in Clinical Pastoral Education while serving as a Pastoral Minister for the Parish of St. Monica. Remaining in the Mobile area, she was hired by Southern Care, Inc. and Southern Care Hospice and served as a Hospice Chaplain for just over ten years. She championed prayer as the most important to any undertaking. She relied on her faith and the faithful, so she was able to give the best voice of comfort to those she encountered in life and ministry. She joined Providence Hospital of Mobile in 2010 and served until deciding to return to Monroe and serve her community in 2014.

Sister Sharon made a prayerful decision to leave the beloved people of Mobile when her health added difficulty to her work. She returned to the Motherhouse, determined to continue her pastoral ministry to the sick and infirm as a volunteer chaplain at IHM Senior Living Community. Along the way, her care extended to staff, family members and visitors. She continued her ministry as prayer and presence when her health declined.  

Sister Sharon is survived by brother Albert and sister-in-law Deborah; niece Amanda (Kelly), nephew Chad (Cheryl), dear grandnephews and nieces Jack, Ava, Isabelle, Addison and Hannah, as well as her IHM Sisters in community.

Read Sister Sharon’s Remembering here