"I was glad that the students, families, faculty and the Sisters Academy community were able to celebrate this important milestone," Mary said. "Through the years Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been Founding Mothers, teachers, secretaries, volunteers and board members along with sisters from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Bon Secour, the four congregations who collaborate to make this ministry possible."
Mary’s journey to this point in her life began in Brooklyn where she and her brother were born and raised, attending Saint Catherine of Genoa School, staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. "My parents, who emigrated from Ireland to the US, were health care workers in a hospital that treated people with mental illness. They showed such respect and kindness for the people they served. I believe their example planted the seed which would later lead me to become a chaplain."
After high school, Mary entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Maryland. When she graduated from Trinity College, Mary taught first grade in several states before being missioned to Saint Catherine of Genoa, her home parish. "I didn’t expect to return home, but it was a wonderful experience. I taught first grade and regularly saw my parents in the schoolyard after the eight o’ clock Mass each morning along with my students who loved seeing them."
During this time, Mary served as a Eucharistic Minister at a hospital on the weekends and felt called to become a chaplain. She enrolled in a chaplaincy program and became a full- time chaplain at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and later Mary Immaculate Hospital. As a CPE supervisor, she also worked with students studying to become chaplains, an experience which she found very rewarding.
In 2002, Mary returned to Maryland to serve in Province Leadership. It was then that she and Sister Edithann Kane and members of the other religious communities joined with Sister Susanne Hall and Sister Delia Dowling, SSND to begin Sisters Academy. After her leadership service, Mary became a chaplain at Symphony Manor and also served at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and supervised lay people who wanted to develop skills for pastoral visiting.
Currently, Mary and several retired chaplains have formed a Zoom support group for hospital chaplains in active service who are working in extreme circumstances due to COVID. In this virtual community of chaplains, people can share their experiences and reflections. "Community is important part of life for all of us,” she said. “I am grateful and happy that I am part of a mission focused and joyful community as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur."