A Michigan Senate committee on March 8, 1983, recommended that Sister Agnes Mary Mansour’s appointment to head the Department of Social Services be approved by the full Senate. She was later confirmed as department director.
Mansour, who was born to Lebanese immigrants in Detroit in 1931, had been appointed by then-Gov.-elect James Blanchard on Dec. 29, 1982.
However, Detroit Roman Catholic Archbishop Edmund Szoka had called for her resignation, citing her refusal to take a public stance against the department’s funding of Medicaid abortions.
Mansour, who had served as president of Mercy College in Detroit since 1971, told the Senate committee that she can “tolerate” such funding, although she is personally opposed to abortion. She had stated that she “respects” Szoka’s position.
Two months after her confirmation as director, Mansour was required by the Vatican to decide whether to continue as department director or as a nun. She chose to give up her vows as a nun.
“She never stopped being a Sister of Mercy in her heart and many of us never stopped thinking of her in that way,” said Sister Linda Werthman, president of the Detroit Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy. “Throughout the years, her commitment to serving those who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education has been unwavering.”
After serving out her state government appointment, Mansour was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.
She died in 2004.