Sisters Reflect on Decades at Marymount During Founders Day Celebration

When she was in first grade, Sister Mary Patricia Earl, IHM, came down with chicken pox. She was immediately isolated from her classmates at Marymount Junior School, then on the campus of Marymount College.

“While we waited for my mother to come and pick me up, the sisters brought me to the main house, and Mother Mary Elizabeth, the president, babysat me until my mother could come,” she recalled. “That was one of the duties of the college president in those days!”
Along with Sister Jacqueline Murphy, RSHM, Sister Patricia relayed that and other memories, during Marymount University’s Annual Founder’s Day on Feb. 21 at a luncheon in Gerard Dining Hall. “The RSHM Lived Experience: A 50-year Reflection” was accompanied by a slide show.
Founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary as a two-year college for women in 1950, MU became co-educational in 1972 and gained University status in 1986. The RSHM was founded in 1849 in Béziers, France by Father Jean Gailhac and Mother St. Jean. The learning institutions they order would evolve into a worldwide network of schools and colleges.
Now director of Marymount’s Administration and Supervision Master’s Program in Catholic School Leadership, Sister Patricia once served as principal of Marymount Junior School, and was assistant superintendent of schools for the Arlington Diocese for 13 years. She recalled a cottage on campus that was occupied by an elderly gentleman who had been displaced from Latvia. He was hired as a gardener, given a place to live and now is buried among the RSHM in Fairfax Memorial Park.
It was just one example in Marymount’s long tradition of serving displaced persons and refugees, said Sister Jackie, who was only supposed to be in residence on campus for two years after serving as a teacher in Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia).
“It has turned out to be almost 51 years,” she said. “I couldn’t go back to Rhodesia because the revolution took off.”
Sister Jackie also taught at Marymount Junior School before earning a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University (her first master’s was in classics and linguistics). She worked for 20 years at Washington Hospital Center, followed by hospice nursing assignments.
She noted that Marymount’s first two presidents — Sister Elizabeth Gallagher, RSHM, and Sister Berchmans Walsh, RSHM — had been her professors when she studied at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y.
At the event’s conclusion, President Matthew D. Shank thanked the speakers and acknowledged Sister Jacquelyn Porter, RSHM, who serves as a professor of theology and religious studies.
“We owe her a debt of gratitude for all that she’s done to stabilize, bolster and enhance our Catholic identity and our understanding of the RSHM,” Shank said.
Founders’ Week 2018 was held Feb. 19-23. Other events included a service project, a presentation on workplace diversity, and a digital display on images of the RSHM from Béziers, to Arlington. The sisters were introduced by Father Thomas Yehl, Marymount’s chaplain. A Founder’s Day Mass was celebrated at the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel prior to the President’s Luncheon.
Photo captions
Photo 1
Sister Mary Patricia Earl, IHM, and Sister Jacqueline Murphy, RSHM, spoke during Marymount University’s Seventh Annual Founder’s Day at a Feb. 21 luncheon in Gerard Dining Hall.
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Sister Mary Patricia Earl, IHM
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Sister Jacqueline Murphy, RSHM
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Sister Jacquelyn Porter, RSHM, Sister Mary Patricia Earl, IHM, Marymount University President Matthew D. Shank, and Sister Jacqueline Murphy, RSHM, at the Seventh Annual Founder’s Day.