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News Releases

Sister Carol Harbeck Celebrates her Golden Jubilee
September 08, 2008

Surrounded by co-workers and friends, Sister Carol Harbeck, RSM (with flowers) celebrates her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Mercy. Pictured from left (standing) are: Carol Mason; Leigh Ann Riley; Sheila Carroll; Susan Cox; Reya Doss; Debbie Hadden; Bonnie White; Sister Carol Harbeck, RSM; Sister Marilyn Graf, RSM; Kim Hamric; Lana Lemons; Denice Stabler; Linda Selby (front); Jeff Nobles; and Sandy Elliot; (kneeling) Donna Wilhelm; Rhonda Cunningham; Diane Lancaster; and Patti Giardina.

Sister Carol Harbeck, RSM entered the Sisters of Mercy fifty years ago. Her yearly mission trips to El Salvador has taught her valuable perspectives as she has seen people with very little live the richest lives when it comes to their faith and families.

Daphne, Ala.— Sister Carol Harbeck, RSM, sacristan and data specialist at Mercy Medical, joined by her co-workers on September 8, 2008, celebrated the anniversary of her fiftieth year as a Religious Sister of Mercy.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been fifty years since I entered the Sisters of Mercy. So much has happened that fifty years doesn’t seem long enough. Inside I often feel like a young girl just starting out,” recounted Sister Harbeck, RSM.

As a teenager, Sister Harbeck dreamed of doing things unrelated to convent life, however the idea that she could do something great for God appealed to her. On September 8, 1958, the girl who liked to be barefoot, wear shorts and climb trees entered the convent. Sister Harbeck was originally given the name Sister Mary “Vitalia”, a Latin word meaning life giving. A decade later, she chose to take back her birth name “Carol Harbeck” as not many people could pronounce her Latin name correctly.

After entering the convent, Sister Harbeck taught general math to pre-caluculus in Baltimore, Mobile and Pensacola for twenty years, cared for children at an orphanage for eleven years, took a year sabbatical north of New Orleans, and as Sister Harbeck explained, had spent her first five years attaining her college degree and earning her most important letters “RSM”, the abbreviation for Religious Sister of Mercy.

Sister Harbeck started at Mercy Medical in January 1994 and since 1996, has traveled to El Salvador almost every year as a missionary. She claims her mission trips are very educational because she sees how people with very little and few resources live the richest life when it comes to their faith and their families. “The important thing they’ve taught me is to find ways to use and appreciate everything. Being with them, if only for a week a year, keeps my values and perspectives in right order – in God’s order,” explained Sister Harbeck. “Working at Mercy Medical does that too,” said Sister Harbeck.

On October 4, 2008 Bishop John Ricard will celebrate Mass at the Pastoral Center on Garden Street in Pensacola in honor of two jubilarians, Sister Harbeck, RSM and Sister Barbara Murray, RSM.

With an innovative spirit and a faith-based, mission-driven ministry, Mercy Medical has become a recognized healthcare leader known for its compassionate and excellent care. Mercy Medical has locations in Baldwin and Mobile counties that include Baldwin County’s only licensed acute rehabilitation hospital, a state-of-the art memory care community, two lifecare retirement communities, three assisted living communities, skilled nursing, home health and hospice.

For more information about Mercy Medical and its programs, visit online at, or call 621.4200. Mercy Medical is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and is a member of Catholic Health East.