East Harlem advocate dies of cancer at age 75

Sister Mary Nerney, founder of STEPS to End Family Violence and the Incarcerated  Mothers Program. She counseled inmates right until her last few days.

Sister Mary Nerney (left, 1992) worked tirelessly to help female offenders and victims of domestic violence.

Sister Mary Nerney (left, 1992) worked tirelessly to help female offenders and victims of domestic violence.

Sister Mary Nerney, who dedicated her life to incarcerated women and victims  of domestic violence, died of cancer Wednesday. She was 75.

A pillar in her East Harlem community and a leader in the Catholic social  justice movement, she founded numerous alternative to incarceration programs  focused on female offenders.

“She was a fierce advocate of women who had a history of abuse and trauma,”  said Lucia Rivieccio, executive director of STEPS to End Family Violence, which  Sister Mary started. “An absolute inspiration and blessing to all of us.”

In 1975, Sister Mary formed Project Green Hope: Services for Women, which  helped those released from prison reenter society. Eleven years later, she set  up STEPS, which focused on battered women and later expanded to provide services  to children who witness violence and young men who began abusing their  girlfriends.

Sister Mary also founded the Incarcerated Mothers Program and was a founding  member of the Coalition for Women Prisoners. She continued to counsel inmates  until days before she died.

By      / NEW YORK DAILY  NEWS

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/harlem-advocate-dies-cancer-age-75-article-1.1532522#ixzz2mADlGvfI

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