Marymount University Ballston Center Cody Gallery Dedicated to Honor the RSHM Faithful Service to Catholic Education

Marymount University held a dedication ceremony of the new Cody Gallery in Ballston Center on Thursday, March 8. Anonymous donors presented an art gallery naming gift to the University in gratitude for the important role that sisters have played in Catholic education, in general, and specifically in their lives. “No community understands that gratitude for their service better than ours, as we are each grateful for all the sisters of Marymount’s founding order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary,” said MU President Dr. Matthew Shank. “With our Board of Trustees’ consensus, we chose to honor those who took sacred vows by naming the gallery to honor one who means so very much to Marymount.”

Sister Irene Cody is celebrating the 73rd year since taking her vows. She retired to the RSHM provincial home in Tarrytown, New York in 2015. Her life was dedicated to the cause of education and encouraging young people. In 1943, she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Marymount College. In 1955, she earned her master’s in Latin and the classics, and then her doctorate in educational psychology and counseling from Fordham University in New York. She was a teacher or administrator in RSHM high schools in New York City and Medellin, Colombia, and at Marymount Manhattan College. During her eventful career, she also served in Rome with the General Council.

At the request of then Marymount President Mother Majella Berg, Sister Irene returned to Marymount in 1978 as director of financial aid. From there, she moved to a role she has said she loved most, recruiting, counseling and mentoring international students. She created Marymount’s International Students Services Office and hired its current director, Aline Orfali. 

“We can thank Sister Irene for the dynamic growth of an international student body on our campus and our forward focus on nurturing a global perspective in all of our students,” Shank added.

Sister Irene is widely loved and acknowledged as “a walking ambassador” for MU’s welcoming and inclusive spirit. Sister Mary Patricia Earl, IHM, MU Director, Administration and Supervision Masters Program for Catholic School Leadership, remembers the ardent affection her friend held for international students, “We would walk into the dining room cafeteria and our international students would rush to her, breathless to tell her about their father or brother back home. She made it her business, even when it was no longer her official position, to be available to our international community on campus. Sister Irene was a wonderful role model for compassion and for teaching the importance of being sensitive to the needs of others.”  

Upon her retirement from formal posts at MU, the lifelong educator became campus counselor-at-large – assisting with Campus Ministry activities and giving support and encouragement to the student community. She also taught reading and writing for the Northern Virginia Literacy Council, served as treasurer of the Diocesan Sisters Council, was the moderator of the Mother Butler Mission Guild and held leadership positions in the RSHM Community.

Cody Gallery, which features contemporary work by regional, national and international artists, is Marymount’s newest fine art exhibit space and is located on the second floor of Ballston Center, 1000 N. Glebe Road. Exhibits are open to the public. 

Photo captions
Photo 1
Marymount President Matthew Shank and Sister Irene Cody, RSHM, at the dedication of Cody Gallery at the Ballston Center on March 8. 

Photo 2 
Sister Jacquelyn Murphy, RSHM and Sister Irene Cody, RSHM

Photo 3
Sister Jacquelyn Porter, RSHM, Sister Maria Timoney, RSHM, Sister Kathleen Connell, RSHM, and Sister Brigid Driscoll, RSHM at the naming ceremony of Cody Gallery honoring the important role that sisters play in Catholic education.