You have been told, O people What is good and what God requires of you: only to do the right, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
EULOGY OF SISTER MARY McGREEVEY, SSND by Terry Woods
Sister Mary McGreevey, School Sisters of Notre Dame, was born in Pullman, Washington on July 3, 1938, the 4th of 5 children born to James and Helen McGreevey. She also had two half-siblings. She is predeceased by her parents, two brothers and two sisters, and survived by her sister Jane and her brother John who are here with us today. Also survived by her sisters in Christ School Sisters of Notre Dame, especially Sister Dorothy who is with Jane and John in the front pew.
Sister graduated high school in the small town of Colton, Washington, from Notre Dame Academy, where she was first introduced to the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She earned her undergraduate degree from Washington State University, and a Master’s degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane. She later was awarded a Master’s in Catholic Education from Boston College.
Growing up on a ranch, Sister had a special interest in animals and agriculture. Her sister Jane related to me that she earned the money to buy a car when she was 16 by spending a summer tending the neighbor’s flock of sheep, alone on a mountainside where she was visited only weekly to be re-supplied. She was active in 4H Club, and shortly after finishing college, she spent a year on farms in Cold War Poland. She returned home to teach school for three years before deciding she had a religious vocation. Sister entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1964. She took temporary vows in 1966, permanent vows in 1969, and began a career ministry in Catholic education which spanned over 45 years.
Sister served as a teacher and an administrator in schools in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Washington before coming to Phoenix in the mid-1990s to assume the principal position at Bourgade Catholic High School. Many worried about the future of Bourgade at the time Sister arrived, but her 14-year tenure as principal became the crown jewel in her dedicated career. Bourgade improved in every measurable way under her leadership, and she was able to retire in 2011 from a thriving Catholic high school which sends almost every one of its graduates on to higher education, many at prestigious colleges everywhere in the United States. Sister was inducted into the Bourgade Catholic High School Hall of Fame in 2013.
Personal Observation: I am a baseball coach and I believe Sister Mary was an athletic coach’s favorite kind of principal. She believed sports were co-curricular rather than extra-curricular. She understood that the first place that some students discover how to learn is in a gym or on a field. (Besides that, she was an avid fan of sports, and we will miss her in the bleachers behind home plate putting a hex on the opposing hitters.)
Sister Mary was a very real person of the world: 4H Club work in Poland, milking cows on the family farm, shepherd for the neighbor. She was expressing her displeasure to me one day about a Bourgade parent who she felt didn’t do enough on her own to pay her child’s tuition. She said to me, “She could mow a few lawns to earn some money.” It struck me she was dead serious – it’s what she would have done.
Right next to this earthiness was a truly spiritual person. I know that the first few times that I was standing close to her when she led prayer that God truly entered the room. Let us bow our heads now and recall the many times Sister Mary lead us in prayer.
– I think we will see her face and feel her presence AND, we will know God is with us. He always is when she invokes His name.
Let me finish by suggesting that the best measure of a person’s life is his or her impact on others. As we leave this celebration today, I urge each of you to check your minds and your souls.
You will find her fingerprints all over you.
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